Imagine a Vogue Nigeria: An open letter

I love Vogue and my beautiful country Nigeria. These are two words that no one has ever thought to couple until now. So every Tuesday, allow me to write this open letter to anyone that cares or has the power to make this happen, especially to the people over at Conde Nast. The title of my new series is “Imagine a Vogue Nigeria.”

Dear Sir or Madam,
Nigeria is one of the most misunderstood country in the world. My goal is to correct that misunderstanding. One important conclusion is that it is a country founded on the principles of celebrating the ceremonial side of life. Nigeria therefore has a pivotal, yet widely neglected role to play in accelerating progress to achieve some of the world’s most pressing issues whether in the realm of poverty, health or even fashion. And so I would like to draw attention to the country, to discuss how its people both within the country and in the diaspora personify human solidarity, large enough to bring about any transformation.

Consider the time of this writing. If you are following the international press, Nigeria has done the unimaginable, quashed the Ebola outbreak in the most populous city in Africa. However, the country is still battling with the terrorist group Boko Haram and six months later, outrage over the abduction of the 200 Chibok schol girls remain. If you follow the Nigerian press, the presidential election campaigns are underway amid accusations of corruption by elected officials. Then there is the case of our country’s megachurches insisting they will not pay tax. Yes, this reports maybe worrisome to some of your readers. Nigeria has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the countries with the most negative media coverage, whichever way you follow. Some may say it is the worst of times as the country faces deep predicaments, from the threat of Boko Haram to #bringbackourgirls, even the never ending scourge of corruption at the hands of elected officials are worthy of critical debates.
Yagamezi-Vogue-Nigeria-5But I will not dwell on this. Instead, I will tell you about the people, how investing in them can lead to real, radical social change, the stuff that dreams are made of, even with power to contain a virus as deadly as Ebola. This is the power of Nigeria. A country that is also experiencing it’s best of times. Look at Blessing Okagbare, who triumphed at the 2014 Common Wealth games this past summer, becoming the fourth woman to win the 100m and 200m. This was after a disappointing outing at the London 2012 Olympics that would have demoralized even the best of us. Or Jason Njoku who is rethinking how online distributorship of Nigeria’s movie industry occurs with the creation of his online internet company in Nigeria. My point is, Nigeria is such a challenging but also an inspiring country.
Yagamezi-Vogue-Nigeria-4It is time for a change. This letter is an attempt to argue deliberately and aggressively about a country that I so passionately believe in with the goal to illuminate certain truths that many non-citizens may ordinarily dismiss. It is an attempt to speak about the Nigeria many Nigerians know of so that “other” people’s feelings and perceptions about Nigeria are not the only ones considered. Until someone speaks in a fair and unbiased manner for us, then our voices will never be heard.
Yagamezi-Vogue-Nigeria-6It goes without saying that the only way to imagine any thing is to, well, imagine it-so imagine a Vogue Nigeria? Our cover girl Yagazie Emezi with her infectious upbeat spirit is on a glorious crusade to locate young and upcoming photographers with the intent of providing a platform that showcases their works and points of view of Africa. Her work is the most ravishing and elegant example of the extraordinary strength that lies within Nigerians when we make a concerted effort to portray our worldview positively.Yagamezi’s story, like the other stories I will share, are a powerful template upon which a Vogue Nigeria should be constructed. These Nigeria, are honest hardworking engineers, and young college professors like myself. They are also your doctors, your nurses, your lawyers, your financial analysts, your journalists, your teachers, your students, your waitress, your artists, your artisans, even your taxi-cab drivers. They are extremely passionate about Nigeria and are willing to contribute if equitable, effective, and mutually beneficial opportunities are made available. Now imagine, if there was a way to harness all their potential.
Yagamezi-Vogue-Nigeria-2So there is a change afoot and whatever your view of the Nigerian situation, when you imagine Vogue Nigeria, you will be confronted by radically different perspectives and stories about Nigeria, from people you may not have heard of before, all eager to provide fresh insight on a country that we are extremely passionate about. What I hope you learn is that there is a country, Nigeria, so beloved by its citizens, misunderstood by others, that the only way to transform thinking is to re-imagine it anew. It is from this context that I ask you to imagine Vogue Nigeria.


Isioma Ezepue
Editor of

p.s Stay tuned next tuesday for more on my crusade for a Vogue Nigeria…


Why Prabal Gurung Continues To Fail

With the New York Fashion Week in Full Swing, the sentiments and high praises for all the collection are on full display with very little discussion on the fashion seen on the runway. In previous posts, I have tried to summarize as succint as possible why some designers are either great or truly terrible at this thing called fashion design. Let me continue now by summarizing why the new collection by Prabal Gurung is lackluster. It is difficult to think that Prabal Gurung has still not found his way and unfortunately it did not begin with this new collection. First, he seems to belongs to the school that doesn’t think it is necessary to provide something thoughtful or eye catching on the runway. Case in point, his preference for embellishments, especially those annoying trailing scarves, and the piles of feather, or the black leather diagonals were just too much. I cringed when I saw the pictures below as they seemed so displaced with all the piles of feathers or the black leather slashed like a diagonal in a patterns that made me wonder out loud to myself, “what was he thinking.” As if that was not bad enough, he decided to pair a mesh sweater with components that were so confusing to look at, with pants that made you question his design ethics. Honestly, some of the pieces he displayed do not spark appreciation or desire, instead they made me wonder why Prabal Gurung continues to fail and if he will ever know when to draw the line between fashion and theatricals. See some of the pieces from his collection i truly abhor below.

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Grace Mahary for Edit Magazine

So last week one of my favorite African High Fashion models Grace Mahary graced the pages of Net-a-porter’s Edit Magazine. She was modelling exciting, wearable trends for Fall/Winter 2014-2015 in key staples such as jacket and dress by Altuzarra; boots by Purified. She was absolutely bad-ass with killer legs for days in a sweater, skirt and scarf by Prabal Gurung; sandals by Reed Krakoff. This is my favorite image from the editorial alongside the image of her wearing the mini dress by Mary Katrantzou; boots by Maison Martin Margiela. I could go on and on, but instead see below some of my favorite images of Grace Mahary for Edit Magazine.
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African High Fashion Models at Hervé Leger by Maz Azria

By now you should know that I am obessesed with all things related to African High Fashion Models and it’s my intent to showcase them as much as I possibly can. So yesterday, I streamed the Hervé Leger SS 15 show at the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week live streaming site and boy was I happy I did. He allowed 3 of my favorites, Cindy Bruna, Grace Mahary and Sharam Diniz to stroll through his runway show back to back and they were pure perfection, plus the much needed dose of color/diversity that allowed his clothes to shine brightly. See my favorite images of them put together below.


Jason Wu and African High Fashion Models at New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion has officially started and I am in love with Jason Wu. He featured 2 African High Fashion Models, Kenyan Malika Firth and Egyptian Morrocan Imaan Hammam. They were absolutely flawless on the runway.
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Deconstructing Lisa Folawiyo’s Cool Fall Look

Nigerian Fashion designer Lisa Folawiyo is known for her “powerful mix of pattern, colour and texture” in her JewelbyLisa, now known as Lisa Folawiyo designs, which celebrates the essence of being African. So when she is seen strolling through the streets in a ripped denim look that is pretty darn cool, we are quickly taken by her style. Ripped jeans have been rising to new heights this season, yet (as we prepare for fall), she manages to gives her rag and bone jeans a cool, chic feel, that we can’t help but love. There is also something so unexpectedly stunning about how she pairs the jeans with a gorgeous blush colored bubble-knit Chloé sweater and the leopard print slip ons. In true chic style, she kept her accessories minimal, opting for a pair of dark shades and a black straw-like bag. Her styling will “make your heart skip a beat.” But don’t take my word for it, here is the picture of Lisa Folawiyo that I can’t stop gushing about. (p.s. send positive vibes to her on her upcoming show at New York Fashion Week).

So the actual sweater is sold out in most stores online, but you can get a similar style here and the actual rag and bone shredded boyfriend denim here.


Source: Instagram

Vogue’s Cover Girl (and African Beauty) Imaan Hammam Beauty Routine is Depressingly Simple

Isn’t it great when you find out that models are just like us with beauty regimes they use that can be found in your own kitchen pantry. Vogue Cover Model and African Beauty, Imaan Hammam (who landed her first Vogue Cover with the September Issue by the way) is a breath of fresh air as she spices up the pages of Vogue on a regular basis.If you are like me, I have been waiting for the inside scoop on her hair and beauty secrets, because she is a stunner.
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Alas, my dreams finally came true. Last weekend, Vogue caught up with the model at the Brooklyn Afropunk Festival and she did what most models never, ever do. This gorgeous beauty gave the breakdown of her super low maintenance beauty routine which I can’t wait to try. Basically, “she incorporates oils and butters from her mother’s native country Morocco into her beauty routine.” As if that’s not enough (Lord knows I don’t know when I will ever make a trip to Morocco), she shared how you “can mix saffron and honey into a paste that you then apply into your face like a mask for five minutes. Wash it off and your face is beautiful.”
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The idea of Imaan Hammam beauty routine being this depressingly simple is truly fabulous and no lie, but I thought of incorporating this into a product fast, particularly after reading the following from Marjon Carlos of Vogue-“Hammam’s flawless skin tone was reason enough for us to vigorously research the effect of saffron later that evening—and as it turns out, she’s on to something. Besides being one of the most rarified spices in the cupboard, the russet grains are a beloved brightening, toning, and purifying agent. And her skin-care concoction sounds prime for the colder months, when our weather-worn skin needs extra moisture: Honey hydrates, and the saffron restores a pretty glow. With the first hints of fall upon us, there was no better time for the model to clue us in.”

As for me, i would like to say thank you Imaan for letting us in on your beauty secrets. Now I am off to try it on my skin…

Source: Vogue