By JEMI EKUNKUNBOR
When Joan Ibuzo set out to study Economics at the University of Sokoto, somewhere at the back of her mind, she knew she would one day have to pursue her passion-fashion. After a stint in the bank, the mother of three, joined Silverbird Productions as pageant manager during the reign of MBGN Agbani Darego, who later became Miss World.
With the formal launch of her label, House of Marie, the elegant designer, is set to make her mark in the Nigerian fashion industry. In his brief chat, she talks about her work and style.
How did you get into fashion?
Fashion has always been a passion of mine. My mum and siblings know that. As a person, I have never been able to bring myself to wearing the same things with people even aso ebi. Because of that, I always look for a way to create my own thing so that I can be different. I realised that no matter what we decide to study in school, at some point, we all fall back to our passion. That is what happened to me.
If you don’t like wearing the same things with people, what then is your style?
I really don’t know why I can’t wear the same things with people. That’s why even if four people asked me to sew something for them, even if you don’t ask me, I will change something such that the four will not be exactly the same.
What won’t you do in the name f fashion?
I won’t wear see through clothes. If you must wear sheer, wear something under. Don’t follow the Whiteman to wear things that are not suitable for our clime. You must know your body line and wear what suits you.
But it seems a lot more people dress to expose themselves?
That is why I always advocate for people to wear age appropriate clothes.
Who is stylish for you?
I like people who wear simple, defined clothes; clothes that suit the body and have this aura of comfort and elegance around them. You know how when you wear a N2,000 fabric that is well sewn and you are looking comfortable and nice that appeals to me.
Is there anybody that fits that bill?
I think I like Ireti Kingibe. I have seen her effortlessly in her clothes even with the way she is covered. But you see, she is not wearing it because she wants you to notice her rather she is wearing it because she wants to be comfortable at the occasion. And just looking at her, you can see that she is taking care of herself.
Are there brands that you like?
I like different brands for different reasons. I will like a Ralph Laurent for casual and their blazer is just right for me. I also like their pants because after wearing it a couple of times, it just shapes your body. I like Oscar d’ La Renta for that feel of something old.
Between classic and trend which do you belong?
I will say in between
Which of the accessories do you like?
I think I like all accessories, shoes, bags and jewelleries but I won’t break a bank to buy a bag or a pair of shoes. If I enter a shop, I think I will most likely gravitate towards jewellery first because these are things that will last and I want my daughter to wear them later.
I remember when I was in school, I bought this coral set with gold clasp and a Victorian ring. If you saw it, you’d think it was my mother who gave it to me. When I bought it, my friends laughed at me then because corals wasn’t something that young girls bought then. But today, I’m happy I did.
What kind of jewellery do you like to wear?
I must wear an original because I react to costume.
How has your life in fashion been?
There are a lot of unsung designers. So the best is not really out. There are a lot of students at Yaba College of Technology who are good at sketches but they don’t know how to put the right fabrics to make those designs. So, you have established designers who buy their sketches and make a lot f money out of it. That is why I say there is a lot of copied works going around. Such unsung designers need to be encouraged and they should be able to make some money for their efforts.
Apart from that, my life in fashion has been wonderful. I enjoy buying fabrics and when I make something nice, I’m happy.