Lets Talk Fashion with British Bridal Designer – Kosibah’s Yemi Osunkoya

Even though it was almost 8 years ago, I remember vividly the excitement I felt when I decided to look for my dream wedding dress. The plan was to buy something off the rack, an elegant statement piece, one that people would ooh and aah and one that would take my groom’s breath away upon first sight. However, my dress was designed and made just for me, my first haute couture experience.

Shall we fast-forward 8 years as I walk into Kosibah to meet with the owner Yemi Osunkoya. Yemi is an impressive man, tall and charming yet eloquent in his approach. As he guides me through his journey, his labor of love shines through when he describes to me his journey of how he came to be one of the foremost British black haute couture bridal designers, still standing for 23 years. I ask if there is any significance with the name Kosibah. It turns out to be a derivation of his mother’s name. She was born on a Sunday and named Cosiba; he changed the spelling to make it a little more user friendly yet different and Kosibah was born.

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Image courtesy of Damien Lovegrove                            Image courtesy of Alakija Studios

I wanted to know more about this important designer, so I delved into his background and how he came to be a designer. He explains that the compromise he made with his parents when he told them he wanted to be a designer it would be for that reason he would go to university. “If I could have gone to university to study fashion design in Nigeria, I would have done so, but there wasn’t any university offering fashion design courses at that time. So I decided to study textile design because I thought fashion and textiles go hand in hand and it could always come in useful afterwards. So when I came to England, I didn’t want to go through another 4 years of fashion school; I just wanted to learn how to sew, how to draft a pattern, how to cut fabric and other practical skills relevant to creating clothes because I could already design and was pretty good at sketching out my design ideas.” In London he attended a private fashion school called the Paris Academy School of Fashion. It’s closed now, but there he was taught old-school couture: “where you take 26 very precise body measurements from your client, you then develop a body block, from the body block you make a pattern draft and then you do a fitting on your client with a mockup/prototype of the garment you are making in toile; there’s usually some slight fitting issues that are flagged up at this stage because everyone’s body is different so I don’t deal in dress sizes, I deal in body measurements for each individual.”

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Image courtesy of Kosibah

After starting his business in casual wear, he very quickly realized his methods of production were not viable and would be both too expensive and labor intensive. His business organically evolved into bridal and special occasion wear because of the way he wanted to make his dresses. “I can create whatever my client wants. The unifying factor in all my dresses is the figure enhancing aspect of them, so regardless of whether I’m using kente, or I’m using ankara or I’m using lace, or I’m using duchess satin, it’s the same couture process I use but it’s all client led.”

Kosibah Real Bride Hadiza
Image courtesy of  Kosibah

Ladies, finally a designer that cares about women with curves! Yemi goes on to explain, “they obviously come to me because they’ve seen something I’ve done. I sit down with them, I look at them physically to see what would fit because that’s my basic ethos. I ask myself what can I do for this person in front of me to flatter them and make them look their best? Sometimes we minimize certain body areas and sometimes we enhance other body parts.” As a woman with curves, I begin to smile and Yemi smiles back in acknowledgment that I like his style!

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Images courtesy of Kosibah

Dressing his bride is a service he offers because after working for months on a dress, he wants to see the dress in the right setting and wants to ensure it looks exactly the way he designed the piece. A client who he met through Instagram flew him to Abuja to the wedding to dress her. Ladies, you can bring the designer to you! Yemi is not only a 21st century designer but he is engaged with social media and recognizes how powerful a marketing tool it is for his product. He understands the power of Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, “learning the etiquette of the social platforms he uses” he now has clients he would not have met under normal circumstances.

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Images courtesy of Kosibah

I asked Yemi whom would he consider as his ideal client. He explains, “she is a full-figured woman because anybody that is a size 14 or under, people might just assume she’s got great body.” A full-figured woman that wears one of his dresses should expect a significant amount of body sculpting in order to make more of an impact. If you’re not sample sized, it might be more difficult to just get something off the peg which is where getting something bespoke might be your priority. Because of “the quality of the fabric, embellishments that I use in my dresses and the line and the silhouette of the finished gown, I want it to always scream class and grace.” I ask him if he could dress any bride, or create a bespoke dress, who or what would that be? Yemi immediately responds, “if Oprah ever decides that she wants to marry Stedman, she should come and knock on my door, and I will create the most amazing dress for her because she has the perfect figure I’d like to get my hands … ’cause she has an hourglass figure.” I smile and tell him we’ll have to get that message across the pond to Oprah.

Check out Yemi at the following:

http://www.kosibah.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/YemiKosibah
http://www.twitter.com/yemikosibah
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/yemiosunkoya
http://www.yemikosibah.com

 

Michelle Lowe is the travel editor for World Bride Magazine and is based in London, UK.

Reykjavik, Iceland – Honeymoon Experience Of a Lifetime

Close your eyes, imagine a place as green as Ireland, with the most dramatic water falls like Iguazu or Niagara.  Think of the most beautiful sheep of England, simple beaches and a volcanic landscape like no other, with peaks and valleys.  Open your eyes and you will be in Iceland.

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There are so many interesting and a vast variety of things that make Iceland such a wonderful experience that I don’t know where to begin, but I shall try.  This past June while visiting the breathtaking country, the sun apparently did set but it never became dark.  One glorious evening, we were casually strolling, exploring the hot spots of the region, and we stopped at one of the local restaurant and ran into a bar at 12:00am; we couldn’t conceive that it was still daylight outside nor that it could possibly be that late.

Two of the most alluring things about Iceland are Reykjavik (pronounced rey-ka-vik) as a city and the beauty of nature all around you in Iceland. Reykjavik is the capital and a harbour city which boasts the most spectacular views, but although being a city, it provides you the comfort of a small town. Reykjavik is a city of 32,000 inhabitants. Everything from fine dining to fish skewers to Thai food is available. While we had consistently good dining experiences, the main surprise was the cost. While their main exports are wool and lamb,  almost everything else is imported, hence the incredible cost of everything there. Be forewarned, prepare yourself for an expensive but worthwhile trip!

The natural environment will blow your mind. It is an active volcanic island comprised of sand, lava fields, mountains and glaciers. The most alluring part of Iceland has to be the landscape. The natural beauty is astounding from the terrain of volcanic moss to the hot and cold thermal waters that are hard to describe but beats any jacuzzi you’ve ever sat in.

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The famous Geysers, which derive from the Icelandic verb to gush, eruptions can happen infrequently depending on the geyser but will often gush boiling water metres high in the air.

One of the strangest experience is walking on the moss-like greenery that has grown over the volcanic rock and feels like stepping on broccoli but with a sinking effect. The juxtaposed views of green landscapes and ice capped mountains is exhilarating.

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The country has made a significant recovery since its meltdown in 2008 – no pun intended. There is evidence of this when you see the number of tourists, fine dining restaurants and a booming clubbing and bar scene that was fraught with people queuing to get into the various venues.

Reykjavik has just hosted the world’s most unique music festival, Summer Solstice which reigned over Reykjavik, for the first time from June 20-22, 2014. What made it different? The sun did not set over the three days and there was straight sunlight for 72 hours. The festival attracted over 10,000 people to their Icelandic shores to listen to the likes of Massive Attack, Banks, School Boy Q, Disclosure, Múm and close to 150 other artists.

The Reykjavik fashion scene is cool, trendy and stylish all wrapped up in one. Along the main road Laugavegur there is plenty of shopping for those of us who cannot resist.

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One of my favourite stores, Kiosk, is also located on the main street, Laugavegur in the heart of Reykjavik. This store is a co-op collective with creations of 9 Icelandic designers, all who take turns to work the counter and sell their designs.  Their gorgeous clothes and accessories range from silk to organza to quirky prints. Pop in, you are bound to meet one! Kiosk, Laugavegur 65, www.kioskreykjavik.com. There are many fabulous designers, too many to name but one that made a distinct impression is Eggert, http://www.furrier.is/photo-anders-engstrom/, a furrier with edgy designs, colours and stunning outerwear.

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Fine dining exists here just as it does in most major cities.
Mar Restaurant, http://www.marrestaurant.is/, is located not far from the waterfront and serves a great seafood soup, delicious fish and good lamb.

Nauthóll, http://nautholl.is/, has the most idyllic view of the beach, cool but relaxing décor and the best gin and tonics I’ve had in sometime with a little pepper added for garnish! The food is straight from the farm to the table. Healthy but sophisticated. Be sure to order any of the salads and the fish is pretty amazing too. It’s a little outside of the city centre but well worth the ride.

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Thursdays are American vintage car day where you will see bikers dressed like hells angels and cars from “back in the days” that will peak your interest. Let’s not forget their piece de resistance, the largest church in Reykjavik, the Lutheran church, Hallgrímskirkja. The design, is said to have been built to resemble lava.

Grill Markt, http://www.grillmarkadurinn.is/, presents a décor that is both cozy and welcoming, a beautiful bar downstairs along with cozy booths around the back and nice size tables for groups. You could have mistaken the ambiance for any trendy New York restaurant even playing some rap songs from the 90s. But the menu was the most adventurous with Whale, Reindeer and Lobster mini burgers. Puffin is eaten here as well but it seemed to be out of season therefore not on the menu. The grilled red fish was firm and yet full of flavour.

If you are non-European and more specifically non-Scandinavian, you will be inclined to find the costs of everything outrageous. That being said, this is an experience you are unlikely to experience anywhere else and worth every penny or in this case every króna.

Photos courtesy of Aimee Sealfon and Michelle Lowe

To Pietrasanta with love . . .

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is plenty of beauty to fall in love with at the Albergo Pietrasanta Hotel.
Or while you are there, simply fall in love all over again with that special someone.

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Although, it was a grand seventh century palazzo (palace), the property is not ostentatious in its appearance. In fact, if you are not careful, its simple yet elegant façade and glass entrance could be easily mistaken for one of the many stylish art galleries that are dotted along the medieval streets of Pietrasanta.

 

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Each sleeping room is more beautiful than the next and with more fabulous space than the next depending the room type or suite. All are to die for, especially if you are travelling from other parts of Europe. Not only do they offer luxury amenities, but, every detail is thought of from the beautiful soft furnishings right down to a shaver with shaving cream! The period furniture is elegant and all the rooms have wonderful natural light. If you are lucky, you may have a room over looking the romantic courtyard.

As you enter the lounge area, ahead lies in a glass atrium the dining room. The first thing that meets the eye is a beautifully landscaped garden cleverly designed to connect with the unobtrusive converted stables the other side of a peaceful and quiet space. They even have a small gym, off the garden, a great place to stretch or warm up before your exercise. Inside the atrium dining room, the menu is ever pleasing to the eye and to your stomach, along with the beautifully chilled prosecco served daily.

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The Albergo Pietrasanta Hotel is in a small town known for it’s art and it’s attraction of celebrities and famous artists such as Fernando Botero and Alfonso Cuarón (Oscar Winning Director for Gravity).

Another unknown celebrity, Barbara Pardini is the jewel of the property, and the General Manager.  She brings a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the hotel. Which embodies all of the beautiful things that you will experience upon your visit. Specifically, the unique and niche one of a kind experiences that only she can provide for you to experience as a guest at Albergo Pietrasanta. She offers this and more in order to enhance your stay at this exquisite venue. Her wonderful and warm aura is so inviting, you can’t imagine anything that she organizes for you not exceeding expectations – but they do!

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A few of the trips she organised were; a trip to Carrerra, notable for the white or blue-grey marble quarried there which is the same marble, quarried hundreds of years ago for some of the Michelangelo’s statues.  It’s a sight to behold and driving up the marble mountain in a 4x 4 is not for the faint of heart! Or a private tour of the great opera composer, Giacomo Puccini’s home – now a museum, or a concert at the  open-air opera house dedicated to his work situated on the Massaciuccoli Lake – bellismo!

These are just a few of the one of kind experiences available.

A day trip to Portofino, Cinque Terre, the beaches of Versailia, or the exclusive shops in Forte dei Marmi can all be arranged as a guest at Albergo Pietrasanta. Closer to home in Pietrasanta, don’t miss the Mexican Sculptor, Gustavo Aceves’ exhibition LAPIDARIUM, located in the main Piazza.

Coming from the UK where customer service can often be questionable, there is nothing else to ask other than, “why can’t it be like this everywhere?” The discreet staff is at your service for everything and anything and more than willing to help you with every whim or query. The hotel is neither small nor large rather it could be likened to a fine private home. What is impressive is the extensive art collection consisting over 61 pieces of mostly first editions, throughout the hotel.  What’s not to love? Art is a consistent theme through out the hotel and the town. If you are as passionate about art as I am, you will believe you have reached Nirvana!

If you want an experience that money can’t buy or a romantic wedding, a honeymoon or an artistic getaway off the beaten track, contact Barbara Pardini by email: bpardini@albergopietrasanta.com or Tel.: 00390584793727 and quote WBN-AP for a great rate.

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Perhaps, you will find here – all you need is love!

Queen of the Palace – A real fairy tale come true at The Palazzo Manganani Feroni

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Feeling like a queen will be second nature when you stay at the Palazzo Maganani Feroni Hotel in Florence.

This former palace, owned by two families and most recently the Giannotti family for over 250 years, is an authentic Renaissance Palace from the 1500’s, which was completely restored in 2002.

As you enter the magnificent lobby, you are greeted by the sound of delectable jazz music and you can feel that love is in the air. This luxury property offers 24-hour service and all amenities and services that the luxury traveler of today requires.

The Palazzo Maganani Feroni is located in the heart of historic Florence and all major attractions, restaurants and shops are in close proximity.

What makes Palazzo Magnani Feroni special, apart from being the Condé Nast Johansens Award Winner 2013 and the Condé Nast Johansens Award Finalist 2014, are the 12 stunning suites on 3 floors of which some of them face onto a common gallery. The architecture is superb; original frescoes, cross-vaulted ceilings, a beautiful inside courtyard and a rooftop terrace, which overlooks the beautiful city of Florence and the nearby hills. Each suite has its own personalised name and you can even choose your preferred soap for the duration of your stay. The rooms all carry Bulgari amenities – what’s not to love!

On the second floor left wing where the majestic Salon sits, you can enjoy a white glove service romantic candle lit breakfast and even a mimosa or bucks fizz along side your macchiato, cappuccino or coffee/tea of choice. Close by is a billiard room – if that is your choice of relaxation. Situated on the ground floor is the hotel bar that opens at 6pm every evening and in the summer time it moves to the rooftop terrace which is especially breathtaking at dusk.

This exceptional hotel will sweep you away with their discreet and professional staff along with their attention to detail. Create your own fairy tale at this romantic venue – it’s not to be missed! To schedule an appointment to plan your wedding, or book a room for your stay at this great location, contact Antonella Fabiano, sales@florencepalace.it and use the code WorldBrideML to get the best rate.

A Lifetime Love Affair with India

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If I mentioned 3 things, where would I be … Sari’s, curry and the Taj Mahal? Yes, beautiful India. A land that is home to many contrasts and contradictions.

My journey was to the Southern part of India in the region of Kerala, to a village called Varkala. Home to the art of tantra, Ayurvedic treatments; spas, massages, reiki and medicines along with yoga classes, meditation and Ashrams ….there was so much beauty and romance. Yes, you heard right … Romance!

The aroma of soft spices and the array of blended cultures added to the beauty. There were a combination Kashmiri, Nepalese and Indians of all hues – all gorgeous in their own right.

I happened to be fortunate enough to be in India this past Valentine’s Day and it was just beautiful. A very close friend of mine, of Indian origin explained that the Indian men are very romantic and that Valentine’s day is actually a big deal. Such a big deal that actually a few days before there is a special day where the men will approach women they have secretly had their eye on for the past year. Unbeknownst to the potential lover, they will deliver or plant a rose somewhere for the woman they have set their heart on and declare their love! Eat your heart out Romeo!

Varkala is a cliff side beach village. On the beach you find couples strolling along the water, getting their feet wet and gazing into each other’s eyes while the sun slowly sets in the background. Oh what a beautiful sunset!

The beautiful rays of sun that stream across the warm ocean water could be likened to the colours and reams of silk that are displayed on the beautiful Indian women in their sexy saris. They are designed to show just enough skin to raise an eyebrow, outline the shadows of their curves and hug the parts that should be imagined only in the subtleties of your mind.

I happened to be there for Valentine’s Day. It was a hazy day and a balmy evening with a subtle taste of sea air and a hint of salt on your tongue. There were heart-shaped balloons everywhere and roses being given to every woman who walked into an establishment, whether she was single, married, old or young … You could feel that love was in the air. All the men were full of smiles and passion in their eyes and that mystical feeling of love was apparent and you could smell the sweet scent of romance and the warmth of passion everywhere you turned.

I found a special place called the Secret Garden in Varkala – and it’s truly a secret! Off the beaten track from the beach bums and tourists on the main drag, located on a side street of mostly residences and accommodations, is a hidden gem. The Secret Garden is a restaurant owned by Chef Khan. Who at the tender age of 31, has been cooking since the age of 7!!! So he is the maestro of his own kitchen, conducting his own seducing recipes. Every night the menu is different as he whips up a variety of succulent and delicious dishes that pander to every one’s tastes.
His specialities for that week were Italian, Indian and Keralan style dishes. I was Impressed to learn that every region has it’s on type of cooking and while there are many essentials spices not All are used in every region. The fabulous ingredients that he uses are:
– turmeric
– red chilly
– cumin powder
– garam masala
– coriander seed
– ground pepper
– fenugrec powder (fish)
– caraway seeds
– nutmeg
– ghee
Coconut oil, coconut milk, pomegranate and potatoes and rice were staples he used to make many of the dishes. At my last meal I was graced with a pumpkin curry, aubergine (eggplant) in coconut milk sauce, steamed butternut fish and lemon rice shaped like a heart! What’s not love! The food was exotic and delicious – I fell in love with it.

They always say that the way to a mans heart is through his stomach but as a woman my heart skips a beat, just a little, everytime I hear the word India! I have just had the first encounter of my lifetime love affair with India.

Michelle Lowe is WBM’s Contributing Editor based out of London, world traveled and exquisite taste for travel.