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Originality, Please !

By Bimpe Benson
Why, all of a sudden does everyone look the same? Its almost as if there’s a huge ‘machine’ churning out all the fashionistas – you know the look – long locks of ‘Aunty Funmi’ hair’, eyes completely hidden behind huge sunnies, tons of make-up, ‘the’ jeans or dress, the platforms and yes, you got it, THE bag!

Yes, fashion is fantastic, but aren’t we limiting fashion by seeking to look like clones of the same human hair doll? Is the very essence of fashion not its insane diversity? Helped in no small way by the boundless creative thoughts that lie in our designers’ minds? Most amusing, there are three different categories that I have placed our fashion conscious women in, as depicted below. Find yourself!

SophisticatBeen there, done that several times and more, this lady purchases only the real – genuine weave on, real deal, really huge Chanel sunglasses, bling of well appraised carats, Rock and Republic straight from their signature store, rows of excruciatingly high Louboutins and, yep, the Hermes or Louis Vuitton Alma Vernis bag in red or brown.

Total cost of total look? Let’s just say painfully expensive. It doesn’t matter if she can really afford it or not in these times of global recession, she must ‘maintain her standard’ and will therefore go interesting lengths to purchase and keep purchasing these items.

The Sophisticat is at home with the really high end names, knows her Valentinos from her Versaces and is in her element sailing the aisles of the best names in Lagos, Paris and pretty much every other fashion capital.

Her style is well honed and the unmatchable result of many years of experience being knee deep in the stuff. Everything about this woman shrieks ‘superior’, her total ambience reeks of priviledge. She’s a hardworking career or business woman or she’s married to a moneyed man. Every well shorn step of hers makes a fashion statement that her halo of exclusive scent from the best perfume house puts a full stop to with each waft that assails the nostrils. She searches for ‘the look’ (of the clone) and adopts it using the best names and the best quality out there.

My question to the Sophisticat is – do you really need to look like every other woman of your ilk? I think the essence of all the couture knowledge in her mind should happily tailor her application of it! Can we see hair styles that are different, probably more attuned to the heat of our tropics?

Can the Sophisticat promote our cool weaves and natural hair? Because of her acquisitions, she’s looked up to and is the prophet of fashion; she begins trends and can use that influence right! Long live sunglasses that don’t hide half the face! Long live shades that frame and take into consideration size of face and shape of face! Long live our own natural hair or short weave on for a change!

Can the Sophistcat stop spending money blindly to acquire a bag she probably doesn’t even really like the look and shape of? Because Victoria Beckham carries it in every texture and colour does not mean she must break the bank to acquire it! By all means, spend on fashion, but there are so many amazing designs of bags available by local and foreign designers, she should buy ONLY the ones whose structure, fabric, shape, workmanship she really and truly likes, not because everyone else carries it or because a young lady in the UK does so!

Dear Sophisticat, great responsibility lies on your shoulders. Embrace the diversity of fashion, truly fix/ wear/ carry only what suits you, show the many different faces and looks of fashion and let’s together say ‘death to the clone!’

THE  Aspirant

No, no, no! this lady of whatever age must stop it all right now! She sees not, knows not and cares not what she wants. Her life is ruled by the dictates of Remi and Ruth for the week/ month/ year.

She religiously purchases her favourite weekly soft sell and races to her ‘designer’s’ place with it. She must ‘copy’ the style that so and so wore, and no mistakes! Our aspirant’s eyes dart left and right at every event she attends; she must memorise the style, the shoes, the hair, the application of eye shadow! She must then proceed to Yaba to buy all the look alikes.

Mizz Wannabe has forgotten she has a will of her own; she must wear it shorter, lower, tighter, bigger, thicker! She may hate/envy the Sophisticat with a passion and watch out for her downfall in the soft sells, but she must copy her completely. Scrimp, save, cajole, BUY! The Asian shadowy groups that produce fakes stay in business because of her.
Slow down, please, our dear aspirant. You may not realize it, but you’re blindly following fashion and not exhibiting your own God given ideas on what to put on your own body! Take a deep breath, look at yourself again, look at your shape, height, complexion and posture.

Ask yourself what really looks good on you; what shapes, hemlines and textures work with what you’ve got? What colours bring out the best of your complexion? What message do you want to send with your outfit and what makes you feel like you’re connecting with everything about you?

Think deeply on these, seek help from your friends if you must and the next time you go to Tejuoso market, apply your new rules that connote the real you to your shopping. Pick the colours, textures and sizes that you feel work well, not because you saw it somewhere. Do it differently, create a different look.

Dictate what hemline goes with which top just because It’s in harmony with you on the inside. Stop drawing thick black lines along where your eyebrows used to be, stop wearing jeans so tight they mark your skin at the waist. And stop making yourself bald at the temples.

High Street Cougar

She knows the length and breadth of Adeniran Ogunsanya, not to mention the side roads; her favourite area of the UK is Liverpool Street, and she can recite all the locations of Aldo, New Look, House of Tara and Collectibles by heart. She can’t afford real human hair, and so extends her hair length with Darling Yaki; she’ll harass her Sophisticat friend or aunty for a cast off designer bag, and so you’ll see her with gaily logo-ed bags from many seasons past. She’s into all the shops and knows all the names; she knows her Zizi Cardows from her Frank Osodis from her Guccis though she can’t always buy them and is forever popping into La Primavera at lunch time ‘just to try’.

She’s a fierce one with her outfits, skin tight jeans and puny tops, up to here dresses and the highest platforms. The high street cougar buys her stuff from her friends ‘who travel’ or when she does once a year and makes her pick from the boots of their cars at her office parking lot! She’s usually purchased up her month end pay before it comes and is living by the day on ‘dash’ from well wishers. She wants to be the Sophisticat so bad, she’ll happily tutor at the feet of one and call her ‘mentor’. This darling is fertile ground for fashion, her taste is being dictated by the Sophisticat and at this stage, still a bit of her own imagination.

STOP! Cougar, think a minute: can you imagine how beautifully original you would look if you took that Zizi’s top and paired it with that lovely skirt from Jewel by Lisa and finished it off with your new patent Aldo shoes simply because YOU think they look cool together? Enough already with taking off all your front hair with lace front wigs and boiling in our weather under all that thick make up meant for Canadian temperatures! Fashion?

By all means, YES. ….just by your rules! Morale, dear Cougar? You still have enough originality left in you to amend, twist, bend fashion to what suits you and not the other way round. The result? A true masterpiece and one of a kind fashion babe – because you set the rules.


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