Allure Sunday Cover Stories: Wedding Wardrobe Planners
By: Jemi Ekunkunbor
When it comes to weddings, every bride or groom takes out time to pick out appropriate outfits both for the engagement or traditional marriage as well as the civil marriage itself. Picking the best outfit is very important for the couple who is conscious of the fact that they will be the cynosure of all eyes on their big day. The task can be very daunting, and even more for the bride who must turn herself into a princess for that day.
The three personalities on our cover today make up a tight squad you can rely on to take the burden off you.
Shadiat Kosoko deals in all kinds of fabrics; laces and women’s clothes that make traditional marriages very contemporary. Hakeem Balogun is every groom’s delight. Crafting bespoke pieces for the groom and his men are his specialty. Completing the team is Yemi Shoyemi who like the fairy God mother, comes to make every girl’s dream of being a princess come true. She specialises in creating amazing, seamless dresses from luxurious fabrics.
In this interview, they talk about their craft, the passion and all the fun things with weddings.
Yemi Shoyemi – Crafting Bespoke Dresses For The Contemporary Woman
Her curiosity about fashion at a very young age, sparked off her interest in fashion. So curious, one day, when no one was watching, she picked up a pair of scissors and has never put it down. Yemi Shoyemi, Creative Director of Yemi Shoyemi Couture, studied Business Administration at the University of Abuja. She later horned her skill in designing at the Creative Design School in London.
A fashion visionary, Yemi is known for well-structured and seamless garments, using luxury fabrics and handmaid details to create elegant pieces for the contemporary woman.
You found your passion quite early. Why didn’t you go straight to do fashion after secondary school?
Yes, I did; but because of the ‘’African mentality’’ that to be something in life, you have to go to the university to study. There is no doubt that going to the University is good as it helps one to define social life and future career.
How well did you enjoy your training abroad?
It was quite interesting and a unique experience.
What inspired you to tow the line of bridal?
Fine tailoring, beading, construction and beautification (Beadwork).
What experience did you bring from your training abroad to infuse in what obtains here in Nigeria?
My love for haute couture. It involves a lot of creative thinking, beautification, voluminous shape, good craftsmanship. Above all, a sense of satisfaction seeing all the work come together and the joy on the face of each bride.
Which female figure inspires your designs?
All female figures inspire me as I enjoy creating structured silhouette.
What is the popular fabric of choice for brides?
Tulle, lace, satin, silk, organza and any interesting fabric.
Weddings take fairy tale dimensions these days. What dress have you designed that tasked your creativity?
The Amanda dress. It was named after the gorgeous bride, Amanda. It weighed 30kg, the dress had a 4-meter train, the under skirt had a 7meter train and the veil was 12meters long. It also had 3million hand-beaded rhinestones and it took about 8 months to be completed.
Staying true to femininity has led many brides appearing half naked to church. In light of the Meghan Mackle example, how would you react?
To each his own perception of femininity. As long as one is comfortable and feels womanly, that’s okay.
What silhouette is more popular with Nigerians brides?
Mermaid and Ball dresses.
What Is the colour trending now especially for bridal train?
More brides are embracing a second dress for the big day. Why is that?
I suppose they need a fun dress for the after- party.
What aspect of the wedding ceremony do you enjoy most?
The morning of the big day, vow taking moment, and the couple’s dance.
What should a bride not do with her wedding dress?
She should not hand wash her wedding dress.
Hakeem Balogun – Styling The Modern Day Man
Kimono Kollection is a label cultivated to cater to the needs of the modern man. Between the edgy style of East London men and the classic designs of the Saville Row craftsmen, lies the thrust of his pieces that he has become renowned for.
In 2009, after gannering two years experience, the stylist and designer, returned to Nigeria to fill the gap in well crafted, tailored and high-end design concepts, as well as good and outstanding fit in traditional attires for men. Hakeem Balogun, creative head at Kimono Kollection is an accounting graduate of University of Bedfordshire, UK.
When consulting for a potential groom, what things do you look out for?
Our grooms come in all body types cum personalities: so when consulting with them, noting their expectations is priority to us at the house, as each individual represents a specific taste level. It is our job as tastemakers to either complement or elevate their expectations.
Who is the ideal Kimono Kollection man?
The Man who loves to wear Kimono kollection is one who is confident enough to evoke pleasure, desire and fantasy, the man who has a knack for creating a unique form of impression with his very well-tailored appearance, the man who perceives his appearance as a non-verbal conversation between himself and the ones living in it
How should a well crafted suit be like?
A Well crafted suit should fit and sit right in all of the right places. Like I said, fit not tight. Certain areas of construction should be well taken care of; the shoulders, the sleeves,the sit of the pant and the body of the suit itself.
When you moved back to Nigeria, did you find a ready market for what you do?
Of course, I did. I have always had a very seasoned support system of family and friends: regardless, I had to put in so much effort. Before venturing into the art of suiting, l was in the art of creating statement tunic and celebratory garments, which was and still is an in-demand market here in Lagos and in Nigeria as a country.
Wedding is a very formal occasion but modern grooms are embracing trends in terms of design. What do you advise?
I am a stickler for classics just because they are never defined by time. Decades down the line, even in pictures, they still retain and maintain that aura of timelessness. They never go out of style season after season. So we always advise our grooms to keep it timeless.
You do not only design you also style. Is it appropriate for the groom to skip wearing socks on such a big day?
Save wearing a pair of velvet slippers on your tuxedo, or styling your jacket or blazer with a pair of denims or dressing down your suit with a tee shirt or a Polo shirt , it is unpardonable to skip wearing a pair of socks on your suit or tuxedo, especially when styled with the traditional oxfords.
When is it excusable?
For our Grooms, I tend to switch in favour of the traditional Black Tuxedo (which could come in different cuts) with a butterfly winged collared shirt with black button details, a good silk velvet bow tie and some statement Oxfords. And do not forget to punctuate with the right pair of socks. I also love the visual prowess of ivory/cream tuxedo.
What is your favourite design and colour for grooms?
For the grooms men, the navy blue or grey palette is quite traditional but timeless and accessible after the wedding. For the risk takers, army green is a great choice.
Have you experienced a bad fashion day with any groom and how was it resolved?
The good days and the bad days coexist in this business and knowing how to manage such days, requires alot of emotional intelligence. The client is very important to us and we see to it that with the structure in place, we please them without a fuss, even if we have to go the extra mile.
Who inspired you?
Oh obviously there are certain people and brands I love as a person and how they have risen through the ranks to establish themselves as a formidable force to reckon with in their diverse fields. However, I have always been self motivated.The passion to becoming very successful and making major impact has always been my drive in everything I find myself doing.
Who do you dream to style?
Every man desiring to own a well- tailored suit.
What would be ideal to wear for a simple wedding and what would be good for a glamorous one?
For a simple wedding, pair a nice navy blue suit with a white shirt and tartan slim tie, a pair of tan brown Oxfords and if you want to keep it traditional, a well tailored tunic with matching pants will keep you in -themed.
For a glamorous wedding, a well- tailored Agbada, Buba and Sokoto in white, sky Blue, Grey or Navy Blue would always spin heads.
What kind of client would you not dress?
We are taste makers with an affordable luxury vision at Kimono kollection, and we dress all clients who understand and appreciate this vision.
Shadiat Kosoko – Giving Traditional Marriage Unique Fashion Outing
Shadiat Alasooke is a traditional fashion brand founded by Shadiat Kosoko in January, 2016. For over 10 years, Shadiat as Executive Director, gathered experience while working at her mother’s company, Shukky’s Fabrics. Shadiat is a graduate of Banking and Finance from Babcock University. She also holds a Masters degree in International Business from University of Birmingham, UK.
With both local and international clientele, Shadiat constantly tries to ensure her fabrics capture new trend in fabrics, colour and designs.
Her company which caters to the complete wedding train seeking unique traditional outfits, has featured in several fashion events both at home and abroad including the recently held Lagos Bridal Week.
What was it like learning the ropes of this business under your mother?
It was a wonderful experience. Learning the principle of business directly from a very disciplined mother. She taught me everything thing I needed to know and I’m super grateful for that. There was no special treatment given to me while working for my mum. I worked as much as every staff at the store. In all, at a young age, I gathered a lot of experience in administration, sourcing of textiles, distribution and sales, staffing and records. I learnt more than the basics.
And the training field was right in the heart of Balogun Market in Lagos.
What do you do differently from her?
My mom is a major risk taker with stocking her shop; and the irony about it is that, it has always worked for her because she is more into whole sale. I would say I’m of the philosophy that trends and fashion are dynamic and changes can’t be predicted easily these days.
Traditional weddings now take on a very glamorous look. What is the current trend?
Traditional weddings have come a long way from the basic Aso Oke, lace etc. Some years ago, it was just enough to put on just a plain or simple Aso Oke. Now every bride wants to look youthful, modern and traditional at the same time. So, it more like a fusion of both western and traditional style. More fine cuts and Appliques are applied
Apart from Aso oke that is woven here locally, how do you source for those exotic laces that Nigerians love?
I draw inspiration from any and everywhere. So wherever I find myself, I explore, get inspiration if possible and source.
Apart from the current vogue of beading or stoning aso oke, what innovation have you brought into the industry?
We constantly put efforts and ideas into innovative designs. My stylish designs actually set new trends for brides. It’s a constant work in progress for me: after a design is completed, we start working on new designs. We work with sketch artists, round the world fusion of fashion blended with our local tradition. Stay tuned, we are currently working on a new project which will take the whole traditional attires to a whole new level.
Do you cater for couples from other tribes beside Yoruba?
Yes, we do. We currently have Hausa and Igbo couples and we are currently expanding and sourcing for unique textiles for different tribes.
One fear a bride has is to have a guest show up in an outfit similar to hers. How do you ensure that the bride and even groom are set apart from the guests with outfits?
Glamour and Style! Our aim is to satisfy our client, by combining their vision of what they want to look like on their big day and our ideas to reality. That being said, every dress has a personality, your personality is often a strong indicator of what type of style suits you best. Clothes work when they are harmonious with the person. However, with our clients vision and our professional ideas and innovative designs, our brides stand out elegantly.
Nigerians now have bridal and grooms train for traditional wedding. What do you make for them to wear?
The bridal train embellished headtie while the grooms men, handwork caps.
Of the weddings you have styled, which is your best and why?
Like I said earlIer, our styles and designs are dynamic and tailored individually with a vision. There’s a storyline behind every style and this makes all styles unique in their own way. When I finally see the couple dressed up on their big day, that make everyone of them my best.
If you were not doing this, what would you be doing?
I would probably be an instrumentalist or make up artist.
Because of what you do, do you find yourself always wearing traditional outfit to weddings?
Yes, I do, as often as I can and also design it fashionably.These days, I use traditional textiles to design almost everything even to casual wear.
What’s your style?
Classic and Elegant.