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.

'Odile''Odette'

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.”

'Ekatarina'

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!

Kente-Oke BridesmaidMother of the Bride Lady Boateng and Yemi
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.

Kosibah Real Bride TemiKosibah Real Bride Chinyelu I

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.

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Subject: See Attachment, YOU’RE INVITED! E-Invitations For the Modern Couple

The tech age has certainly changed the bridal industry and the traditions surrounding the big day. A lot of things have been made easier: you can browse for your dress, preview venues, research caterers and wedding planners, even thoroughly vet your bridal party’s progress all from the comfort of your sofa. The online marketplace has also opened up some new phenomena that are certainly altering tradition— namely, online invitations.

No, I am not talking about those silly JibJabs your uncle or co-worker is obsessed with. As of 2014, there are a number of sites that specialize in wedding e-vites. These are sophisticated, high-class designs to fit any theme and are perfect for international or large weddings, eco-conscious and new-age couples. The sites are virtually stress-free and make it easy to save time for other elements of the wedding, like cake tasting.

Here are the top three:

1. Paperless Postpaperlesspost.com

This site is the pioneer in online invitations. It’s perfect for the creative bride who has an idea and needs an easy way to put it into fruition. Offering a number of gorgeous motifs, the site has everything from save the date to bachelorette party and rehearsal dinner invitations, allowing you to match the invitations or pick from a few variant designs. The aesthetics of these invitations are so realistic and beautiful you will feel like you can pick them up off the screen. Perhaps the best thing about Paperless Post, however, is that you can personally create and edit invitations online in a matter of minutes. You can choose from over 50 font types, alter the alignment, sizing and color. If you have some family that require more tangible invites, the site will allow you to create a mixture of online and print cards.

2. Evitepostmark.com

Similarly, Evite offers several types of invitations in an array of styles and with equal flexibility. When you select an e-vite, you can choose the color, whether or not you want it to come in an “envelope,” choose the liner and stamp, customize the font, wording, and size. What’s particularly unique is that you can insert text cards for additional information as well as up to 6 photo cards to include, perfect for the couple who’s taken engagement photos and wants to show them off. The site also allows you to easily import your contact list and save drafts — in case there are too many options to choose from immediately.

3. Celebrationscelebrations.com

Need a bit more direction but want to know you’re getting a great design? While there is less editing potential here, Celebrations allows talented artists to post unique invitation designs for a variety of wedding-related events. You can narrow your search by color and style, from “hand drawn” to “textured” or “retro.” The site also allows you to choose from one or two image ports as well as offering the ability to send print in addition to digital invites with RSVPs included. With hundreds of options to choose from, you certainly won’t feel limited.

Think Chelsea Taylor Jewelry for Spring

Looking for some great gift ideas that may suit your bridal party? Well look no further. With a little bling and color, you can provide your bridal party with a gift that will not only suit your immediate need to accessorize their bridal look as they walk down the aisle for your wedding, but they have something memorable from your wedding that they will cherish.

Chelsea Taylor jewelry has teamed up with Swarovski crystals to come up with a fabulous and bold jewelry line. This line is a celebrity favorite and has been featured on the Today show, Good Day New York and Good Morning America. It is time to bring out those bright colors you have been hiding in the closet, ladies. Luckily, this line features pieces that have blossomed just in time for the season. Chelsea Taylor offers lush greens, beautiful pinks and far from mellow yellows to add a pop that will complete your look. Chelsea Taylor is your go-to for statement rings and bold earrings. Think retro 70s and 80s pieces for 2014. Another amazing feature is every piece is ready to be customized and available in 20 shades.

Go to chelseataylor.com for your must-have spring and summer accessories. I took a look at the site and picked out my favorite pieces for you. ENJOY!

 

 

YELLOW

 

0393GREEN RINGPURPLE EARINGSSILVER NECKLACE

The Best Bachelorette party ever!

A Bachelorette party is a exciting daunting task.  This is the last time you and the girls will enjoy a wild night on the town before your big day. It is a well know tradition that every bride to be participates in.  When planning a bachelorette event you must plan a even that all your girls will talk about for years to come.  If you reside in a small town head to the the closest big city. Ad variety and spice to your event by patronizing a venue that is out of your ordinary.  Take a look at five fun cities where you can enjoy your bachelorette extravaganza.

1.) NYC

It goes without saying NYC has a lot to offer.  Don’t let the high prices of the Big City deter you.  If you plan on staying the night websites like http://www.airbnb.com provide amazing apartment rentals for great prices.  The site offers apartments in every borough and are rented directly from the owner. For a larger space at cheaper price you can’t go wrong.  NYCs’ abundance of restaurants will never leave you hungry and if you want to party vist http://www.myopenbar.com for locations that offer drink specials and open bars at NYC chicest hotspots.

2.Miami

Need spice in your life? Miami is that place to be. Head over to South beach and enjoy their restaurant row.  Staying in a hotel a little farther away from Ocean drive will ensure better hotel rates.  Between Lincoln Road and the board walk there is plenty to do. Don’t forget to stop by the famous Wet Willies for fun drink names like “Call Me A Cab”.  This will definitely be a unforgettable.

3. Chicago

Don’t sleep on Chi town. Chicago offers some of the best comedy clubs and deep dish pizza you will crave. Millennium Park is great place to kill time before heading out to enjoy a nigh on the town. At Home Inn Chicago offers great deals on overnight stays for groups.

4. San Francisco

The geography of San Fran is a reason to visit on its own.  The walks of North Beach and the Golden Gate Bridge are enough to put any bride to be in a great mood.

5. Bahamas

The Bahamas are always a splendid idea . Freeport offers incredible beaches and better prices.  A day on the beach is always ideal. At night enjoy live music at the Lucaya Marketplace.  They say Wednesday nights are one on the best for a mouth watering fish fry and refreshing cocktails

Say Yes to Art Basel

Wedding’s are all about personality.  Don’t be afraid to add flare, this will help you stand out and be unique. If you love the outdoors consider having a beach wedding. If your inspired by other cultures add some of your favorite cultural foods to your menu.  Your guests will appreciate your diversity.

For my art lovers be inspired! Attending  Art  Basel in Miami Beach is a amazing opportunity to view the newest galleries and exhibits the art world has to  offer.  Art Basel provides galleries a platform for those whom appreciate art, while giving you access to international art.  You will be exposed to sculptures, paintings and other instillation to help inspire your perfect day.  Art Basel attracts those who enjoy modern and contemporary art.  This is a big event that attracts over 70,000 people a year.

Art Basel gives you 4 days of access to the most exclusive art from around the world. You will be delighted to explore these wonderful treasures. This year Art Basel will be taking place on December 4-7 2014. You can attend a exhibit such as the one captured below by photographer extraordinaire-Robert Zuckerman. From the streets of Miami to the indoor instillations your opportunities are endless. This may also be the opportunity to purchase pieces for your new life and home together, or simply allow what you see to inspire you.

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Photo Credit:Robert Zuckerman- http://www.robertzuckerman.com
Dress:Romona Keveza, suit: Hugo Boss, couple: Katherine and Jordan Niefeld

The Gele- Nigerian Headwrap- Fashion Piece with History

The Gele is a traditional Nigerian Headwrap. It is worn during special occasions as an accessory to the traditional ‘iro’ (a wrap-around skirt) and ‘buba’ (a loose fitting blouse). Gele is usually made out of heavy or stiff fabric that can be wrapped and moulded into a specific shape. Fabrics from Switzerland and Austria are very popular, but the most popular and indigenous to the Yoruba is the ‘aso oke’. Aso Oke is originally a ceremonial fabric woven locally in Nigeria and is made up commonly of strands of cotton and/or silk. Aso Oke is also used to make Iro and Buba, but generally for very special occasions such as the brides wedding dress.

Growing up in Nigeria, the tying of the gele was always a sign of an upcoming special occasion. My mother, who admits to being inept at this admirable art, always enlisted the help of a close friend or neighbour before a party. After many failed attempts by my mother, these women would swoop in and have the Gele tied in 5 mins flat. To a skinny, six year old girl, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing your mother looking like a queen. The gele meant more to me than a tiara or an actual crown. It was the ultimate expression of femininity. Maybe it was the glimmering metallics of the aso oke, or the bright shades of the Gele, that made women look so glamorous, but it was empowering, and made me proud to be female in a society that celebrated the dominance and superiority of men.

Gele is a sign of social status and importance. It is, in essence, the Nigerian woman’s crown. In the eighties, the various comedy sitcoms in Nigeria, always had a ‘business woman’ character sporting an expertly tied gele. One of such women was the character ‘Madam’ of the series, Basi & Company, created by the Late Ken Saro-Wiwa. She was a woman of means, weekly falling prey to one of Basi’s ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes. She wore her gele all the time, no matter how bright, or outlandish. It was a sign of flamboyant ostentation, at a time where millionaires were being made it seemed almost daily in a then 20-something year old Nigeria.

The Modern Gele
Today, the gele, much like Nigerian traditional culture has been revamped and celebrated. An explosion of creativity, combined with our innate cultural pride means that women are treating the Gele not just as an accessory but sometimes as the main focus of their attire. Gele now comes with scalloped edges, laser-cut designs, hand-beaded, two-tone effects, Swarovski-encrusted, hand-painted, embroidered, sequinned, and any other design aesthetic you can dream up.
Gele tying is now a service provided by most make up artists and/or salons in Nigeria or Nigerian communities across the world.

Weddings
During the preparation for my traditional wedding ceremony, my mother, her ‘committee’ of well-versed wedding planners and I, scoured hundreds of fabric samples before deciding on my gele. Even though I knew exactly what I wanted, this was necessary as the Gele for your wedding is generally custom-made. Being that the groom was from a different part of the country and has his own traditions I donned two types of outfits on the day, meaning two different Geles. As an ode to my own tribe, the Yorubas, I wore an “aso oke” gele(to go with the “aso oke” “iro”and “buba”)for the ceremony, as during the ceremony the groom comes to formally ask for the hand of the bride from her family. For the celebrations after the ceremony I wore the traditional attire of my husband’s family, which required a “gele sego”. In my culture, when a woman marries, she enters into a new family and adopts their customs and traditions as her own. Wearing their attire, is a way of showing my desire to adopt their culture and be part of their family.

The gele is becoming more and more significant. As more Nigerian women take pride in their culture and traditions, the attire becomes a huge part of their lifestyle. Nigerian women take great pride in their appearance, and the gele is their crowning glory. The gele can be outlandish or demure, depending on who is tying it and for what occasion it is being worn. From my mother’s conservative styles, via the comically outlandish costume of “Madam”, to our ever fashionable crowns today, there is no doubt that the gele is a bold expression of femininity. In the Eighties, Western women had the power suit, Nigerian women had the Gele. This is a custom I hope never fade.

Teniola Adunni GioKabari is a Nigerian-British Beauty expert living in London.