By Jemi Ekunkunbor
For every couple intending to marry, uppermost on their minds is how to transform the entire wedding day into a magical moment whose memory will linger long. What they wear and how they look, become their focus.
For this to happen, certain people work behind the scene to transform the couple especially the bride, who often times is the cinosure of all eyes into a lovely princess.
They are, the person who supplies fabrics for uniform (aso ebi), the designer or clothier who makes outfits for the bride and groom as well as the wedding train, the make up artist on whose shoulder, lies the big responsibility to make movie stars out of a plain Janes and the hairstylist must make the bride’s hair, truly, a crowning glory.
Mrs. Yanju Ayo-George who runs Davogue, has been in aso ebi business in the last 13 years while Adebayo Bankole-Thomas’ Bankole-Thomas brand is famed for his bespoke wedding pieces.
Onyebuchi Sez Elabor is a celebrity makeup artist. She has been responsible for creating some amazing looks for brides. And when it comes to hair, Abdulazeez Babatunde Adejumo is the man to beat.
Today, in this wedding issue, they talk about their behind the scene roles and the unique clients they have worked with.
YANJU AYO-GEORGE – Passionate About Lifestyle
Mrs Yanju Ayo- George is an accountant with a professional experience spanning over 13 years in sales, marketing and customer relations.
Within the last six years, Davogue has grown into a multi-faced brand providing services in clothing, styling and beauty therapy through which she re births the skincare values of the ‘fattening room’.
How did you develop interest in selling aso ebi?
My passion in styling brought about Davogue fabrics. A lot of people saw it in me years back (2006-2010) when I had a boutique off Awolowo road in Ikoyi. I was told on several occasions that my passion goes deeper than just owning a boutique. Well. I eventually, birthed the aso-ebi business.
If you were not selling fabrics, would you subscribe to buying aso ebi?
Certainly, it’s my own way of having a healthy wardrobe. I hardly ever go out of my way to shop for fabrics except it’s aso-ebi for a friend or family’s event: that’s how I build my collection.
It used to be a family thing as the name implies but now, everybody wears aso ebi. Is this good for us?
Well, depending on how you look at it, there’s really no bad side to aso-ebi. But remember, anything done to the extreme is never good; moderation is fine.
Aso ebi is a yoruba culture that has spread to other cultures. Are they doing it right?
Aso-ebi cuts across all cultures, only that we the Yorubas hype it more.
Those who are against wearing aso ebi feel so because of the cost which sometimes, can be ridiculous.
Should anyone spend so much just to attend a party?
The term “so much” is relative because, what I term as a lot may be child’s play to someone else. So, I’d advise that you cut your coat according to your material. Do only what you can afford and everyone will be fine. When you have to go out of your way, inconvenience yourself just because you want to buy an aso-ebi that is obviously out of your league, then there is a big problem. It is ridiculous. So I’d say again, let there be moderation.
What is the situation like in this recession?
It’s fairly slow but still, you get some shocker in this recession. Business goes on, recession or not.
What value does it add to a wedding party?
It’s a way of adding colour to a wedding party. It creates a bond, oneness, easy identification amongst several people who don’t know themselves. These days, every wedding has a colour theme, aso-ebi helps to keep that in check as against turning the wedding into a carnival where several colours are rioting.
How and where do you source for your materials?
I source for materials sometimes from abroad and sometimes locally depending on what exactly my client wants.
What is commonly requested for, lace, ankara or aso oke?
It used to be more of lace but now, it’s torn between ankara and lace.
What is in vogue now?
Hmmm, ankara is so in vogue now. Different forms and patterns of ankara, with stones, beads, woven ankara, ankara print silk/satin, ankara in lace or lace in ankara and so on. Some brides have been bold enough and even pulled off fantastic ankara outfits on their wedding day.
What’s your favourite colour scheme for a wedding?
My colour scheme is totally and completely dependent on my client and the party. I work with my client’s colour preference or colour theme for their wedding.
What’s the selection process of a bridal material like?
However long the aso-ebi selection can be, the process is usually the same. You meet with the client, get the colour theme if they have one and if not, help them arrive at a colour theme, either by choosing from what is in vogue at the time, or picking from the clients colour preferences. Then get the client to choose the exact type of fabric, either lace, ankara, aso-oke etc. We get options and bring back to client to pick from, once a fabric is picked, we place an order for quantity.
I am aware you also run a spa, what special treat do you offer a bride?
Yes, I run a spa (Davogue spa), it’s in Lekki Phase 1 and we are currently running a campaign for brides to be. Davogue spa is rebirthing the skin care values of the Efik culture, “the fattening room” with Pamper Lush. It is very important that brides make as much plans for general skin care as they do for bridal make up. You wash make up off that night but Pamper Lush, leaves the bride glowing with a soft and silky smooth skin that will last 2-3weeks after the wedding.
Pamper Lush gives the grooms to be something to look forward to on the wedding night. We take the spa to the bride preferably a night before the wedding. It ensures that no one glows more than you, the bride on your wedding day. I am a big believer in that: if you focus on good skincare, you really won’t need a lot of makeup plus, a glowing skin makes your make up look even better. So, brides should invest in skincare because it is going to represent them for a very long time.
ADEBAYO BANKOLE –THOMAS – Renowned For Bespoke Pieces
Adebayo, the Creative Director at The Bankole-Thomas, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Lagos State University. A chattered accountant, he worked at Tac Professional Services for two and a half years, before leaving to pursue a career in fashion in 2015.
Adebayo says his brand has come to fill a void that has been left unattended to.
What gap did your brand come to fill?
Excellence in clientele management, delivering profound value, time lines of design, impact and influence on mankind and the business of looking good and living well.
Your brand is fairly young. How did you find your place in the market?
God gave us Amos 9:13 (message version). In Taxation, there’s a huge difference between the date of commencement and the date of registration of a business. We might be young in the sense of when we commenced officially but, our pre-commencement stage was a deep period of research. We studied all the existing brands and also the major foreign brands, then with these knowledge, we were able to amalgamate all the things they did right and avoid all their mistakes to form our strategies.
You were at the AFWN last year, how has that experience helped your brand?
That was our first show; we had an amazing team that paid attention to every detail, from the collection to models, videos, pictures and how it can be used to enhance our brand equity. So after the show, it was like a huge introduction of the brand to the media. We got calls from media houses for interviews, these made us visible to popular stylists that introduced the brand to A-list celebrities.
What members of the society do you cater for?
The confident and distinguished gentleman/lady. We have provided outfits for Top Pastors, Governors, Senators, honourable members, Celebrities , Bankers, IT guys and CEOs. Quite odd, recently, an honourable member declined in purchasing an outfit that a graduate trainee in a bank later bought. In essence, our client is an upwardly mobile individual with reasonable disposable income.
You do bespoke pieces, which a lot of brides like. Is this the case with the brides that come to you?
The Bespoke process is the creation of an ownership experience. Every groom and bride wants to own his or her look and yet want to be different from the others. These differences can be achieved only by the bespoke process.
Modern brides like to turn their wedding into movies. How are you coping with their demands?
Every movie has a different story, this allows for variety in creativity. Once we have an idea of the theme, Paris themed, Cinderella, etc , our mood board is established. All that’s left is build up. So we love the drama because it always gives us another reason to do something new.
What interesting requests do you get from brides, grooms and bridesmaids?
When a bride or groom sends pictures of a foreign design, and knowing fully well it costs £700,000 then wants us to do something better for N120,000.
What is your favourite silhouette for brides?
Different body types attract particular silhouettes. A cherished fancy is the mermaid silhouettes, how it fits on the body of the bride from the chest to the knee, then flares out close to the knee. This style however, is mostly Ideal for brides with slender frames and hourglass body types who are willing to show off their curves. The modern bride loves to show off her curves. Also at par is the classical ball gown which is Ideal for most body types but looks great on pears. It’s the perfect “fairy tale” dress.
What special colours do you like to work with for weddings?
For my dark skinned girls, there is always a variety to consider, beyond whites: ecru, pastel taupe and champagne tones, look great. Cool skin toned girls look good in cooler shades. For my light skinned girls, pastels schemes with some pigment. Soft colours which have some pigment in them- light pink, peach, mint green come out lovely.
What is the vogue now for brides and bridesmaids?
We believe mermaid style dresses are fabulous right now, highlighting shapes and figures. For colour shade, pastel colour schemes like green, pink, peach are in great repute, but they don’t compare to purple which is the vogue colour for bridals this year.
And as the cold shoulder trend begins to wind down, innovations in fringe styles are delightful to behold.
Which particular outfit you created made the difference in your career?
It’s pretty difficult for me to identify really. I remember the first time I made shirts for the Governor of Lagos State, then Falz , then the Governor of Ekiti State. Recently, we made a wedding suit for a twin who was best by his twin sister, this broke the internet .
ONYEBUCHI SEZ ELABOR – Make Up Artist With Magic Touch
This native of Delta State is a product of the University of Ibadan where she studied nutrition and public health.
With an overwhelming passion for make up which dates back to her undergraduate days, Buchi as she is fondly called, abandoned nutrition to pursue passion. In 2014, she officially launched her brand, Debrene Beauty.
The mother of one with over 10 years experience, has trained over 1,000 students.
What is a nutritionist doing in the beauty industry?
Nutrition will always be my first choice. I have other plans in the future to expand and incorporate nutrition with beauty. For now, makeup artistry is what I love doing. I developed interest in it since my university days. I have always wanted to be my own boss and employ young artisans that are interested in becoming professional makeup artists.
How did the journey begin for you?
I started way back in my university days. In fact, I got my first bride while I was in the University. When I graduated, I worked with a close friend for about three years before I finally started my brand in 2014.
Why did you specialize in bridal make up?
Honestly, bridal makeup was what was popular back then. Originally, I wanted to be an editorial makeup artist but it wasn’t so popular and thus, demand was low. Bridal makeup was a better option because it wasn’t so time consuming and less stressful than the others. I also love the idea of people getting married and being part of that special day goes a long way for me.
Have you always enjoyed your brides or you have taken on some that want to make you change your mind about your career choice?
It’ been quite easy. I have been blessed with very wonderful brides. In this business, you have to be calm and collected because you will meet different people with different characters. Your job is to manage them and to satisfy them as best as you can.
Which bride gave you your break-through and what was special about her make up?
My Indian bride! She was an exotic blend of Yoruba and Indian. She stood out and her pictures trended in Beauty blogs. After this, the calls started coming in.
What feature of the face would you rather highlight for a bride?
The skin. I do not like a very matte (dry) look on my brides. I love them to glow. It makes them look happy and gorgeous.
What’s the ideal beauty look for a bride?
A natural, timeless, classic look; soft eye shadows, defined eyeliners, soft false lashes, bronzy skin and soft-pink lips.
We live in an age where people are coming out to have same sex marriage. Have you had make up request from such a bride?
No, not yet and I think it is due to the stigmatization on them especially, in a third world country like Nigeria.
Make- up is very key to the overall look of the bride. How do you and the bride work it out to ensure she looks good for her big day?
I am very assertive. I pay attention to what my bride wants. Usually, we have a trial session where the bride lets me know exactly what she needs me to do and I try to blend it all in with my own ideas.
Having been part of several weddings, what would you say of a typical Nigerian bride?
The Nigerian bride does not come to play! She is ready to be the centre of attention and always gets what she wants.
Do brides allow you create a look or they tell you what look they want?
Some brides allow me do my thing, while others are specific about what they want.
What key advice would you give to a bride?
Always have a trial with a makeup artist. This will help you relax on your wedding day because you know you are in good hands.
ABDULAZEEZ BABATUNDE ADEJUMO – Inspired By Industry Big Wigs
Abdulazeez, is a Sociology graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State. He is the Creative Director of Hairbysleame, a brand that officially kicked off seven years ago.
How easy was it turning a passion into a business?
I have never thought of working for anyone. I have always wanted to be my own boss. So, making that decision to turn my passion into my source of income was the easiest thing ever.
What were the first things you put in place?
The industry is a wide one. All I had in my mind was getting better in my field, learning more and delivering more than clients expect from me.
What were your initial fears venturing out as an entrepreneur?
As a guy into hair styling, initially, it was difficult. Very many people did not believe in me even though I believed in myself. But there was that fear that would I be successful or would I end up quiting for a white collar job?
What really attracted you to hair styling particularly, women’s hair?
It all happened in that year when Agbani Darego won the Miss World pageant. I was home on that faithful day watching the television. Then I stumbled on Bobby Eke of Bobby’s Signatures being interviewed as Agbani’s hairstylist. They also interviewed Frank Oshodi as the designer. I felt so inspired. I felt that if these guys can do this, then I’m ready.
Why did you choose to specialize in bridal hair?
I always love to be different. We see hairstylist everywhere but I wanted to do something that would differentiate me from others. I also love making brides beautiful.
Have you always enjoyed your brides or have you taken on some brides that want to make you change your mind about your career choice?
Honestly, being an entrepreneur in Nigeria is very hard. We go through a lot but when you think about those brides who make you feel special, you’d forget those who caused a lot of troubles.
Which bride gave you your break and what was special about the hairstyle?
Hmmmn….that would be Ella Mo Adenugba in 2014. She is a fashion blogger. She has long dreads. I was able to tuck her dreads in, then I came up with a twisted natural look. Everyone loved it.
What hairstyle is currently trending for brides?
A whole lot, we are even bringing back the old school styles in a classy way.
What’s the ideal or classy hair style for a bride?
I love it clean and sleeky. A clean bun with side bangs.
The woman’s hair is her crowning glory. What happens to women who don’t really have that glory?
Life is easy now. Wigs are life savers.
Having been part of several weddings, what would you say of a typical Nigerian bride?
A lot! I love the fashion part. Nigerian brides go all out to look good on that amazing day. A typical Nigerian bride has a picture of how she wants to look on her big day months before that day.
Do brides allow you create a style or they tell you what style they want?
It depends- some send pictures of what they want and some allow me do justice. But I think I love it when they send me pictures of something different. I feel good within when I am able to do justice to what they want.
What key advice would you give to a bride?
I’d advise her to always stay calm. Everything will definitely turn out absolutely beautiful on that day.
Creative Director: Nelly Mesik
Photography: Bamiyo Emina
Styling: Moashy Styling
Makeup: Debrene Beauty
Hair: Hair By Sleame
Location: Trish O Luxury Interiors, Karimu Kotun, VI Lagos.