Leadership (Abuja)

24 November 2012

Nigeria: From the North to the World

opinion

The Nigerian fashion scene has evolved tremendously using African designs as a medium of expression. Amina Alhassan Ahman writes about two Northern Nigerian designers Gogo Majin and Haowa Bello, who are making waves in the fashion world.

Gogo Majin is one of the daughters of Mrs Folake Majin, the Founder of Schon Afrique and a top designer in Lagos. With her roots in Niger state, she is Nupe and grew up in Lagos.

For her, stepping into mama's shoes was not difficult as fashion designing runs in the family-with mom and older sister both designers, that talent has definitely rubbed off on her. She has learnt a lot from their wealth of experience. She may be seen as riding on the wings of her mom's label for now, but Gogo is sure going places. Her clothing line which was recently unveiled is called GOGO MAJIN for Schon Afrique (GM4FM).

This ready to wear collection is specially and distinctively designed for women who are revolutionary, fashion forward, upbeat, chic, edgy and classy. Clothes to suit practically every body type, with intricate detailing on bright, fresh youthful colours using some fabrics such as Ankara, old vintage cotton aso-oke, Chantilly lace , and Swarovski stones for instant glamour.

Gogo Majin says, "My inspiration for the collection came from an accessory that has been used and designed by my mom for her clients for more than a decade on many of her haute couture designs. I wanted to create unique yet uber-wearable clothes and also create classics such as the Ankara /Chantilly columned shirt dress or the playful Ankara pleated bow skirts." Her designs are meant for the young women and the young at heart.

The multi-talented lady also has passion for music, which she has actually pursued a career in. After completing her study in vocal technology in London, where she took voice lessons with the legendary Seth Riggs who is the voice coach for so many stars, including the late Michael Jackson, she recently made a huge debut on the Nigerian scene and has 2 albums to her credit so far.

She is also a voice coach and runs a radio programme, Vocalize Radio Show on Inspiration FM 92.3.In an interview recently, she said, "Because of my mom I have come to love the process of designing and all that comes with it. But I always considered music as my top priority."

Like most girls who love to play dress-up, Haowa Bello's love for bags is insatiable. Her business started, according to her, as a 'silly' experiment and she has never looked back. Nigerian born, but Cameroun bred; she is Fulani,from Adamawa state and started her line of handbags 3 years ago, called Madame Coquette.

Growing up, she enjoyed watching her mother dress up for an occasion and what fascinated her most was the different styles of handbags she had. Each outfit had a specific handbag or clutch to go with it. "And maybe that's where my love for bags started," says Haowa. She moved back to Nigeria where she attended Ahmadu Bello University.

After bagging a BSc in Economics, she decided to pursue her passion. Attended Parsons New School of Design in New York where she did an intensive course in Fashion Design. Later attended Academia Rioci in Florence, Italy where she went for a bag making course.

Madame Coquette is line of luxury handbags that is proudly Nigerian. From clutch purses to shoulder bags to messenger bags, there is something for everyone. From calf and lambskin to ostrich skin, MC bags offer customers a wide range of textures, colours and looks. The bold combination enhances the persona of the modern woman. For four years, MC has been producing hand crafted bags andthese designs have been kept functional and feminine.

Haowa's designs make a statement and give women the best of both worlds by making the formal designs fun and playful with top finishing from skilled leather artisans in Italy. "I'm somebody who pays attention to detail; one little detail can make all the difference in my line of work. I hate imitations. It is very common in our business and almost impossible to put a stop to," she said in an interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend. "Style to me, is about self-expression. It is an expression of who you are. It's a snapshot of one's personality and creativity.

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