By Jemmi Ekunkunbor
Make up artists, models, fashion designers, journalists as well as end users of make up who gathered at the LSDPC shopping complex Alausa, last week for the formal launch and unveiling of Nouba range of make up, thoroughly had a good time.
For a brand that has existed since 1978 in Italy and other European countries, it is the first time it is being introduced into the Nigerian cosmetic industry. Speaking at the launch, franchise owner, Mrs Omotayo Jemila Awa-IbraheemÂ described Nouba as a well researched, mineral based brand, describing the vibrant coulous as its selling point.
In this brief encounter, the amiable, mother of three, spoke on the place of make up in beauty adding that make up is to enhance what a woman has and not to completely change who she is. She also talked about her style which she says is greatly influenced by her faith.
There was a time when make up wasnâ€™t an issue with us. Today even the old wants to apply something on her face. What is your take on make up and beauty?
I always say to people that here is nothing like beauty in its natural form because when we were created, we were not created with make up on. The purpose of make up really is to enhance what God has done.Â As far as I am concerned, God has not created anyone that is not beautiful,Â it depends on your outlook on beauty.
My thought on this is that nothing can replace beauty in its original form. But with make up, you can at least try to hide some little defects. For example, the middle age is coming on and you donâ€™t want people to see the lines or bags under the eyes, all you need is a little bit of make up to hide that. So that extent, make up is good.
As an individual, what wonâ€™t you do in the name of looking beautiful?
For me, looking good is about eating well, eat healthy, get good sleep, drink a lot of water. For African women, we are not built to be slim. We are built to be plump. So there is no point in killing oneâ€™s self trying to lose weight to the extreme. If you try to eat healthy and get good sleep, youâ€™d be okay.
Looking good is a big deal now for women all over the world. How do Nigerian women fare?
You should know that the average Nigerian woman is very conscious of herself as a woman and a thing of beauty. And given our customs and the way we go out and party almost every week, for us, make up is like a second skin now. And the younger ones are more adventurous and more open with colours. They want to be seen and relegated to the background.
An average white woman would find it difficult to wear some of the colours we wear. Someone like you would probably wear purple very well but a white woman would have difficulty doing that because of her skin tone. So we are blessed as Africans.
So you think our culture of partying has helped us learn how to dress well?
Yes, I agree. If you are not wearing the most expensive jewellery but you are beautifully made up as a woman, it increases your confidence because people will compliment you and you would know that you are not out of place. Nobody is particular about whether you are putting on the most expensive jewellery or the most expensive lace. Everybody is looking at your face and in the market, you have products for as low as N500 and as high as N10,000. So really, people can fit in anyhow they want to.
So the way we party has helped us. Its true everybody wants to look good and make up is a cheaper way of looking good and you know with make up, it can send different signals. If you want people to see you as a serious person there is a kind of make up that will send that message. If you want to be perceived as a free spirit there is a way you can achieve that with make up.
What kind of person would strike you as an elegant woman?
That would be someone who is not trying too hard to impress, but just allowing everything to flow naturally. For me that is the best part of being elegant; not trying too hard because it is an inborn thing. Itâ€™s either you have it or you donâ€™t. What you put on should not change who you are but enhances you. So if you try too hard to impress, it is inelegant.
Is there anybody around here who represents that for you?
That would be my mum. She is a very simple, quiet woman. I appreciate beauty in all its different forms. So what you would think is loud,Â may be a form of art and it could be beautiful. So for me as long as it is done tastefully, I will appreciate it. Other women are admire are Daisy Danjuma and Kate Henshaw-Nuttal. You know if you are slim, you naturally look elegant. But if you are big and you are able to comport yourself well, then you are a beautiful woman to me.
What do you subscribe to in terms of fashion?
My fashion is influenced by my religion because Iâ€™m a Moslem. So as much as possible, I have to cover according to the dictates of Islam. I cannot tell people that this is how it should be done or not how to be done. For me as a Moslem, it has to be done to the dictates of Islam-be covered.
What kind of jewellery do you like?
I like gold and diamonds.
What about shoes and bags?
For bags, I have a friend that I buy from. I stick to a particular designer whose bag I am interested in at that particular time. But if my sister comes with a bag that has no name and it suits me, I will buy it. I should be the one wearing the bag, the bag must not wear me. So the label doesnâ€™t matter