Before Instagram made celebrities out of every one with a curated Instagram feed and the slightest fashion sense, there were a group of women who ruled the fashion scene in Lagos with so much flair and flamboyance that it didn’t matter whether you’re in Benue, or like this writer, you’re tucked in in a tiny town in Abia State that is seemingly removed from the rest of the world, you just knew about them. These were the real “OGs before IG”. They didn’t need social media for us to keep up with their extravagant and incredibly stylish lifestyles.
For anyone who only recently started keeping tabs on the Nigerian fashion scene, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name, “Anumudu” is Ozinna, or Zina as most people call her. The fashion girl and owner of The Style Concierge is a sort of household name when it comes to fashion. But the real Anumudu fashion girl is her mother, Nkiru. There wasn’t a fashion or events magazine in the country in the 90’s and early 2000’s that didn’t have Nkiru Anumudu’s photo in its pages regularly. It wasn’t a high society event, if the billionaire wife and her Over-The-Top style weren’t in attendance. Always decked out head to toe in straight-out-of-the-runway designer pieces. As far as fashion goes in Nigeria, Nkiru popularised the logomania trend. Mrs Anumudu spent (and still does) lavishly on her wardrobe and she wants you to know it.
Helen Prest Ajayi
Helen was crowned Miss Nigeria in 1979 when the pageant which was the only one at the time was still fiercely competitive. Decades after she won the highly coveted title and represented Nigeria in the Miss World competition, the lawyer and beauty queen remained as relevant on the social scenes as ever. From magazine covers to high profile events, her understated yet very elegant style was the envy of many. Where Nkiru’s style was very maximalist, Helen’s was the exact opposite. She exuded wealth without ever appearing like she was trying too hard. It all came so natural to her.
There has perhaps never been a more covered beauty queen in Nigeria than Nike Oshinowo. Most beauty queens barely make the news for the duration of their tenure. The more lucky ones manage to sustain their newsworthiness for one or two years after their reign, but not Nike. From the moment she was crowned the Most Beautiful Girl In Nigeria in 1990 to the mid 2000’s, the now 54-year-old was always in the news for one reason or the other, but for most especially her style which for a large part remains unrivaled. Nike was the It Girl. She was the girl every other girl wanted to look like and every man wanted to have on their arms.
Cosmetic surgery might be slowly finding a home among the celebrities and regular women in Nigeria, and we have Modupe to thank for it. Years ago, when it was still considered a taboo for one to alter their body unnaturally, Modupe openly owned up to getting work done and even went on to set up her own body enhancement clinic. This light-skinned beauty was a permanent fixture in the social circles in the early 2000’s for very obvious reasons.
Grace is the quintessential society woman. In her days as Executive Director of Marketing at NTA, the Edo-born lawyer was arguably more photographed than the presenters whose faces graced people’s TV screens on a daily basis. With friends in high places, a killer dress sense, and money of her own, Grace was a regular on red carpets at the classiest events.
A couple of high profile relationships and a clothing brand patronised by First ladies and their other affluent friends ensured that this Ghanaian-born beauty, fondly called Sisi Abba’ was always in the news. The veteran fashion designer and style icon’s glamorous take on modest fashion stood her out among her peers. If there was anything people discussed more than Sisi Abba’s style, it was her love life – a love affair with the son of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Segun Awolowo which produced her only child; a short-lived marriage to Lagun Adesanya and then another marriage to billionaire businessman Alhaji Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo. This woman has lived a full life!
Before she died in 2012, designer Oluremi Osholake of Remi Lagos was one of the biggest fashion designers out of Nigeria, showcasing in major fashion capitals of the world. Her label boasted of a long clientele list made up of the classiest and wealthiest women from across Nigeria and beyond. Never one to miss a party, Remi’s signature all-black look was one to always look out for at events and in the pages of lifestyle magazines.
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