Ex Victoria secrets model , Host of Africa next top model and Nigeria’s supermodel, Oluchi Orlandi recently shared her views on the Global Style Debate in an interview with www.vogue.com. THE Africa’s Women Forbes Top African model shared her view in an interview with vogue concerning how New York influenced her own approach to personal style, and the one thing fashionable New York and Nigerian women can agree upon.
Growing up, was fashion a huge part of your life?
I spent most of my after-school hours at a local fashion house called Henrietta Design Collections. She specializes in made-to-measure traditional Nigerian and Western outfits for her clients. I would hang around, watch, and assist her with errands. Those were my early associations with fashion. She actually introduced me to modeling.
When you first moved to New York from Lagos, what immediately jumped out to you about the style of New York women versus the women of Lagos?
Ah! I immediately noticed the sneakers, jeans, T-shirts, and denim jackets of New Yorkers. As the season changes, their casual uniform always stays the same.
What’s the greatest difference and similarity between New York City and Lagos women, fashion-wise?
The style of New Yorkers and Nigerians couldn’t be more different. New Yorkers are effortless and cool, while the Nigerian woman is more feminine and embellished. However, we all wear the same accessories:Hermès, Chanel, Céline, Saint Laurent, Givenchy. Lagos women also flaunt their culture unapologetically, even when two women walk in a room with the same outfit and accessories. Where they are from locally has a lot to do with how they style their garments.
How did you bring a sense of Lagos fashion into your New York wardrobe?
Well, I had to adapt to the style culture to blend in. I updated my closet to main classics that never go out of style . . . including countless jeans. But I infused a little bit of Lagos fashion into my New York wardrobe by mixing knee-length, plain-fabric tunics with jeans on Fridays, and wore caftan dresses on the weekend, especially during summer.
What’s the fashionable Nigerian woman’s approach to shopping? Is she going to local boutiques? Is she shopping online? Is she traveling to Europe or the States to shop?
She does it all! The retail experience is changing in Nigeria, so most of the international designs are either purchased online at a retail outlet like Mall for Africa or at the Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki, Lagos. Others shop at the luxury concept fashion store Alara or Temple Muse. And for a range of designs made in their native country, Nigerian women shop at Grey Velvet.
With local stores and boutiques like these competing with the price points of their counterparts abroad in London, Milan, New York, and Paris, the days of flying to shop is coming to an end. Nigerians now shop with a sense of pride and confidence, knowing that the product they would normally buy a travel ticket to get is now available in their country, and they can trust that it’s all original.
Attending chic, over-the-top weddings seems to be customary for Nigerian society—and your fashion doesn’t disappoint! How do Nigerian women prepare for an occasion like that? Are you customizing pieces, having things flown in?
Weddings are a huge tradition in Nigeria. Our clothes are mostly customized with authentic local fabrics like aso-oke and lace. These are always elaborate and glamorous. Apart from the actual outfit, which is usually made from exquisite embroideries, we would usually wear a head wrap and lots of jewelry. Gowns from brands like Valentino are now being worn to traditional events, as they fit the aesthetic of our clothes. The shoes and other accessories tend to be from top international brands.
And what about the accompanying beauty look for those kind of events? With New York women it seems like we’re all addicted to our manicure-pedicures and our hairstylists. What are Nigerian women’s beauty essentials?
So that’s as similar as we get to New Yorkers—Nigerian women are impeccably presented always, and hardly ever caught off-guard. Perfectly created hair wigs are trendy at the moment, as most women are growing out their natural hair. So a weekly or biweekly spa regimen and hair therapy at Natures Gentle Touch salon in Victoria Island, Lagos, is a must. Makeup is huge in Lagos and everyone has a makeup artist. You do not have to be famous to have a makeup artist!