1)Noelle Bonner -Fashion PR/Blogger/Model(http://www.fashionfixxation.com/)
2) Aya Brace -Photographer (http://ayabrace.tumblr.com/)
3) Annette Boateng -Fashion Blogger & Socialite (http://annette-hothappenings.blogspot.com/)
4) Rebecca Osei-Baidoo -Buyer for Browns London
5) Melissa Holdbrook-Akposoe -Fashion Stylist / Blogger (http://melissaswardrobe.blogspot.co.uk/)
6) Demi Mensah -Model/Dancer (https://twitter.com/Demi_Mensah)
7) Fleur -Singer (https://www.facebook.com/fleurofficial)
8) Jacklyn Laryea -Illustrator & Poet (http://jackielaryea.com/blog/)
9) Adwoa Aboah -Model (http://www.stormmodels.com/)
10) Juliana Kyerewa -Fashion PR
11) Anbuley -Singer (https://www.facebook.com/anbuley
12) Simone Tetteh -American Vogue Booking Associate (https://twitter.com/SimoneTetteh)
13) Omenaa Mensah -TV Presenter/Model
14) Menaye Donkor Muntari -Model /Miss Universe Ghana 2004/Entrepreneur /Philanthropist (http://www.menaye.com/)
15) Afua Boni -Model/Blogger (https://www.facebook.com/afuaboni
16) Leila Adu -Musician & Fashion Icon (http://www.leilaadu.com/ & https://www.facebook.com/LeilaAduMusic)
17) Yaa Asantewaa Rawlings -Former First Daughter
18) Nana Agyapong aka Nana Ghana -Director/Musician/Visual/Artist (https://www.facebook.com/1NanaGhana)
20) Erzumah Ackerson -Fashion Designer (http://twitter.com/BestowElan & http://www.bestowelan.com/)
21) Fransesca Quartey - Actress /Theatre Director / Vintage Fashion Blogger (http://divasvintageme.blogspot.com/)
22) Sharifah Issaka -Journalist / Travel writer/ Photographer (http://wizsharifah.tumblr.com/)
23) Lady Jay -Singer (https://www.facebook.com/ladynancy.jay)
24) Ms K -Fashion Blogger (http://www.africanprintinfashion.com/ & https://www.facebook.com/AfricanPrintsFashion
25) Doreen Afriyie -Fashion Blogger (http://stylishedforever.blogspot.co.uk/)
26) Lois Opoku –Fashion Blogger (http://lisforlois.blogspot.co.uk/ & https://www.facebook.com/lisforlois)
27) Samata Angel -Fashion Designer/Fashion Entrepreneur (http://samataangel.com/)
28) Cilla B -Fashion Blogger (http://fashberries.blogspot.co.uk/)
29) Clara Amfo -Radio Presenter/ DJ -https://twitter.com/claraamfo
30) Faustina Agolley -TV Presenter / DJ https://www.facebook.com/Faustinathefuzz)
31) Olivia Asiedu-Ntow -Fashion PR (http://www.rebrand.com/2013-juror-olivia-asiedu-ntow)
32) Freema Agyeman -Actress (http://freemaagyeman.com/ & https://twitter.com/FreemaOfficial)
33) Ajepomaa Mensah -Fashion Designer (https://www.facebook.com/ajePomaaDesignGallery &
34) Maame Asiedu -Make-up Artist
35) Dee Maat -Fashion Stylist / Blogger (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Style-Check-BY-DEE/165004256898968)
36) Love Kyei -Beauty & Fashion Blogger / Teacher (https://www.facebook.com/AbenaLoveHairandBeauty & http://abenalove.tumblr.com/)
37) Cynthia Addai-Robinson -Actress (https://twitter.com/CynthiaAddaiRob)
38) Sandra Ankobiah -TV Presenter (https://www.facebook.com/Fashion101gh)
39) Christina Opoku -Dancer
40) Jojo Abot -Singer/TV Presenter/Model (https://twitter.com/JojoAbot & https://www.facebook.com/JojoAbotmusic)
41)Salome Munuo –Stylist, Fashion Editor and Director at The Daily Express, & OK Extra magazine (http://www.fashionsos.co.uk/)
42) Akua Afram -DJ (http://www.ariesmusicconsultancy.blogspot.co.uk/#! & https://twitter.com/DJ__Aries)
Credit: Onefotos (www.facebook.com/OneFotos )
43) Deborah Vanessa Owusu-Bonsu -Singer/TV Presenter/Artist (https://twitter.com/deborahvanessa7 & https://www.facebook.com/deborahvanessa007)
44) Marian Kihogo -Fashion Icon /Stylist & Blogger (http://mariankihogo.com/)
45) Philomena Kwao –Model (https://www.facebook.com/PhilomenaKwao)
46) Ama K. Abebrese -Actress / TV Presenter((https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ama-K-Abebrese/104691221153) )
47) Nuala Hafner -TV Presenter (https://twitter.com/nualahafner)
48) Joselyn Dumas -TV Presenter & Actress (https://twitter.com/Joselyn_Dumas)
49) Louise Darko – Co-owner of MSC Boutique South Africa (https://www.facebook.com/MSCboutique & https://twitter.com/LBoogiebusiness)
50) Ohemaa –Co-Founder of GFDW /Fashion Blogger/Style Consultant (http://www.shaddersafrica.com/)
51) Chelsea Boatey…. Photographer / Blogger (http://rock-my-boatey.tumblr.com/)
52) Yvonne Nelson -Actress (https://www.facebook.com/pages/YVONNE-NELSON/63275426166)
53) Emelia Burns -Actress
54) Samia Yaba Nkrumah -Politician (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Samia-Nkrumah/202592016435991)
55) Edma Ohemaa Lawer -TV Presenter/Model
56) Belinda Baidoo -Model & Entrepreneur (http://b2models.com/)
57) Bertha Owusu -TV Presenter/Fashionista/Socialite (http://www.projectwalkwayghana.com/)
59) Andrea Manuela Giaccaglia -Socialite/Actress/Model
60) Nikki Samonas –Actress (https://jp.twitter.com/Nikkisamonas)
61) Monique Adwoa -Actress/Model/Entrepreneur
62) Vivienne Banini -Fashion Designer (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Manise-Designs/260820993934719)
63) Dzigbordi Kwaku Dosoo - TV Presenter/ Life Coach/
64) Leila Afua Djansi -Film Director (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leila-Jewel-Djansi/146456062063657 & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leila_Djansi)
65) Melanie Crane –Actress/Fashion Designer (https://twitter.com/MELANIECRANE &
66) Bridgette Amofah -Musician (http://www.myspace.com/Bridgette%20music)
67) Kanya King MBE - CEO and founder of the MOBO Awards/Entrepreneur (http://mobo.com/)
68) Jasmine Baroudi -Actress
69) Sandi Owusu –Accessories Designer (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Diva-Delicious/82072105813)
70) Diana Duah -British Vogue's Art Coordinator
Paulina Opoku-Gyimah say: Stylish women of Ghanaian origin, gosh that’s a hard one, - there are far too many of them, but as you all know, I like a challenge……..but where to start?
I started this list about three months ago –and was determined to ‘do’ the top 30, then the top 40, then it escalated to the top 50 – but I just couldn’t stop –and it kind of took over (laughter)…
Because, not only are there far too many fabulous, stylish women in the Ghanaian community -but it suddenly dawned on me, this could be my last list –thus I wanted to do the list and my community -real ‘justice’!!!!I think it’s best to start with why I want to do the best dressed women of Ghanaian origin list and why it matters to ME!!!
I love my community (and beyond) and I love fashion .. and I never see ‘Best Dressed’ lists with regards to the black community never mine a sub community like mine –the Ghanaian community!!!An incredibly stylish community, there were no best dressed lists about the Ghanaian community until I posted one on La Ghana Rising Blog in 2011 (http://ghanarising.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/world-exclusiveghana-risings-2011-most.html).. –I think it matters with regards to the world at large to know about ‘The Stylish Ghanaian Woman’ and the roles she plays in some of the most competitive industries in the world. Plus, I truly enjoy celebrating and sharing this incredible group of stylish women with the world!!!
I also wanted to be able to look back and get a snapshot of what it ‘was’ to be stylish and Ghanaian –in 2013!!! But mostly, I wanted future stylish women of Ghanaian descent and beyond, to know the above women, and the roles they played in the stylish world –at large… Plus they all kick arse!!!Thinking about who should or shouldn’t be on the list made me dig deep and look back over my own fashion journey……
Like all good Ghanaian girls (deep down, all women of Ghanaian origin are good girls, and that includes those showing their naked arses to the world in the name of Art -laughter) –I have to start with my mother or mummy as all good Ghanaian girls call their mothers (laughter)…..
My childhood was typically Ghanaian -my mother was and still is…. Queen Bee!!!
My mummy, the Elizabeth-Taylor-of –the –Ghanaian-community of London could wear a M&S’s dress, paired with a pair of court shoes from Grants [the once ‘posh shoe emporium on Dalston high street] and a clutch bag she picked up from one market or an other –and look a million dollars!!!
Growing up, I watched my mummy often buy cheap wax print cloths from deepest north, east or south London, then she would get Auntie Theresa, who was based in Seven Sister’s indoor market -to rustle up a beautiful kaftan or kaba and slit, -she would then add a beautiful silk shawl and a pair of matching glitzy high peep-toe shoes and clutch combo from one of those chichi independent shoe boutiques in London –and would look like dynamite.Her love of beauty products, her twice monthly visits to her hairdressers to have her hair relaxed or steamed, or washed and plaited –have all shaped me.
From her first-lady hair dos to her incredible jewellery collection, mainly my grandmother’s beautiful Fanti-Fanti gold pieces and more recently, some costume jewellery; –and her vast knowledge of where to buy the best –cheaply, has impacted me much more than I know!!!!Like most Ghanaian women of her generation, my mummy is beautiful ….but not easy [mercy], ambitious but contained, –and her style has stayed pretty much the same –like say, the Queen of England.
My mummy also has many wardrobes –something I have inherited (goodness). The thing is… apart from her growing collection of fabulous but kitsch, olds style trunks full-to-bursting with traditional wax print pieces, all made just to fit her [some dating from way back, plus she can tell you what each pattern means), my mummy has a wardrobe for what I call her kaba, kaba traditional stuff (these traditional ensembles are for special occasions and church only), another wardrobe for her vast array of funeral attire –and various bits-n-bobs including a box full of the ubiquitous ‘black silk’ scarves, –something only Ghanaians can relate to -as funerals are big business in the Ghanaian community!!!My mother’s other wardrobes consists of her work wear, her home wear -something I also have with mine mostly filled with white Muji t-shirts and vests and George of Asda £5 jogging bottoms.. But note, –said ‘home wear’ wardrobe is very different to say -the; ‘visitors-are-coming-right-now’ wardrobe!!!
Until recently, I had no idea just how much my mother’s style has shaped me, but I’m slowly turning into my mother, -something I vowed would never happen to me, –and you know what, -I’m pleased because my mummy is a very stylish woman!!!Years of her dominating goddess-titan-women-don’t-hold-forks-like-that-they-hold-it-like-this verve had me fleeing in the very opposite direction of her polished style. Thus, I was more laissez faire with my own fashion. Preferring a more organic style say -just wearing whatever I wanted, basically..
It will not come as a surprise to you that I did struggle with the voices [my mother’s] in my head when men started to tell me that I was beautiful….Her ‘Are you wearing a slit under you skirt’ when I had no intension of wearing one under my sort of long t-shirt (worn as a dress) –years later were a battle but my rebellious nature won!!!
With her ‘but-where-are -your-earrings’ and ‘Oh-but-where-is-your-belt-dresses-must-be-worn-with-a-belt” ringing in my ears –I went off accessories for a while –when I first left home!!! Thus, I sometimes found it difficult to be a ‘good’ Ghanaian girl (wink, wink), when all I wanted to do was wear my boyfriend’s crisp white linen shirt, a large belt –and strut…. when at the back of my mind, I could hear my mother asking me where ‘my slit and skirt was’???Now…. I still dare to go outside without earrings (laughter)… I guess my mother’s obsession with my sister and me wearing earrings means that I very rarely wear them but I think we all rebel against those little things –our parents wanted us to do –once in a while ---no?
For years after my emancipation, –those creative years after my mother lost her relentless control over my wardrobe, and that matchy-matchy thing she used to do with my sister and me [we like all ‘good’ Ghanaian girls -were an extension of our mother’s fashionable self-], -I went all experimental, -though my mother would have you believe it was more of a rebellious phase, and found my mecca du jour –in Charity shops!!!Having been brought up in Ghana, my mother like most of her generation –was all about aspirational fashion and second-hand clothes were a no, no!!!!
But for me, and many stylish women of Ghanaian origin, especially those of us without access to pocket money (are you kidding…..my father’s a proud Kwahu man), – charity shops were the start of our fashion-love-affairs!!!I got a part-time job in my local 7-11 shop on Waltham X high street at the age of sixteen, –and after I had given 50% of my wages to my parents – (my father’s idea??), I was allowed to do with the other 50% whatever I wanted, after I had budgeted and saved some money (also my father’s idea…honest-to-goodness I love my dad, he’s sooo special).
I would spend hours in various charity shops all over London, Golders Green and Ealing Broadway were the best, looking for special things –and it was also around his time that I stumbled across my first Vogue and Elle magazine…and it was love at first sight!!!!Because my mother was all about Hello magazine -and my father all about Africa (he used to have one magazine regularly delivered to our house –I think it was called Africa today??) – Vogue and Elle became my ‘thing’!!!
The first Vogue I found in a charity shop had me hooked, and I’ve been buying it ever since, though I now prefer American Vogue, they tend to celebrate women of colour –more!!!My first Vogue had a woman pulling a bull through the fashionable streets of London -and was styled by Harriet Jagger!! –You won’t believe this, -but years later, I assisted Harriet Jagger on a couple of shoots for Condé Nast –and even got to spend the night at her incredible home in chichi Richmond, –where she showed me said cover and the rest of her incredible portfolio!!!
And with regards to Elle magazine, I remember reading the whole glossy back to back –and thinking just how fabulous –a certain Claudia Navone looked with her ‘bangs’ as they call it over the pond, -and guess what? Years later I was assisting her as an intern on the fashion desk of British Elle!!! La Claudia is now the Fashion Director of Harper’s Bazaar Australia –and is currently starring in Project Runway Australia!!!Alongside my escapades in charity shops where I learnt the difference between silk and polyester and got very experimental with my fashion,- I started to learn about the beauty of vintage, real vintage –you hear!!!
My love of vintage led me to a love of history –and an obsession ‘the Dior new Look’ and fashion books, –plus, I amassed a large collection of beautiful silk dresses worn by a certain ‘lady’ –and sold them all at a car boot sale years later to fund a life of travel (don’t ask)…
Sometime later, I discovered an independent stylish boutique a few doors away from my work place called Tarts (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tarts/110849992280495) –and went designer crazy overnight. It became the highlight of my day!!!I would spend all my ‘free’ Saturday afternoons trying on fabulously flashy pieces with the likes of the soon-to-be-Victoria-Posh-Spice (I think she lived in Cheshunt) and Hertfordshire and Essex’s finest!!! And with owner Brenda happy to let me pay for the ‘coveted’ ---a bit-at-a-time, - I soon amassed a wardrobe full of glitzy, designer bits-n-bobs.!!! And even though I’m no longer glitzy, I have such fond memories of my shop-scapades at Tarts…
From designer-wag-come-eclectic-vintage-second-hand-style-maven, I went decidedly Ja-fake-ian and got into dancehall, I’m not kidding; - I could drop a yardie accent like no other!!!
Both my little sister and I went through this phase, and it wasn’t easy for my mother –what with her Fanti sensibilities (laughter) and aspirational lady-like verve..
From Pinchers’ Bandelero via Capleton’s, ‘Number One Pon De Look Good Chart’ et al, OTT gold sparkly shoes and bend-down-and whine froufrou dresses, –**it was all about getting back to me, and being that ‘good’ Ghanaian girl -and travelling after said episode (mercy)…
NYC –dossing about down town, up town and Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx (??), Living in Zurich (it was all about Trois Pommes - http://www.troispommes.ch/ - one fierce high-end boutique), Tenerife (Los Cristianos is a must-visit for clubbers or ravers as they were called in my days) , Spain (Barcelona, Valencia, Gerona and Costa Brava), Living in Amsterdam (Amsterdam Spot (laughter) Bijlmer and Rotterdam), Belgium (Ypres –very beautiful, Kortrijk, Brussels and Ghent), Paris (all of it) –I got very trippy, hippy and boho –way before Kate Moss and that Siena Miller!!!
Long skirts, Middle Eastern kaftans, Laura Ashley maxi dresses, long silky dark ‘Naomi Campbell’ weaves, fabulous colourful eye popping eyeliner and a love expensive exclusive perfumes (the type no one else could get their hands on) – my ‘look’ was very Rachel Zoe -way before I had ever heard of the stylist!!!Sooo, after dossing about for years (I kid you not), I came back down to earth with a fashionable bump, stopped my running about -and had to get serious (father’s words), –and started my real fashion journey!!! I went on to intern and work at various magazines…
This was the most experimental part of my fashion journey. I discovered labels like: Preen, Tata-Naka (http://www.tatanaka.com/) Boudicca (http://boudiccacouture.com/), Eley Kishimoto (http://www.eleykishimoto.com/), and PPQ (http://www.ppqclothing.com/); hot boutiques like: Koh Samui (http://kohsamui.co.uk/), Rellik (http://www.relliklondon.co.uk/) and Bang Bang (http://bangbangclothingexchange.co.uk/)... Bang Bang is still the best place to sell or exchange your designer gear. -And uber hangouts like: Momo’s, St Martins Lane http://www.stmartinslane.com/), Fifth Floor Harvey Nichols, Sanderson Hotel (http://www.sandersonlondon.com/) Quaglino's and Charlie Wright's Music Lounge (http://www.charliewrights.com/).....
I worked with the best, and learnt from the best!!! I made some lifelong friends (who continue to move and shake the world of fashion/media) and made some serious fashion faux-pas, -a canary yellow and gold vintage sari skirt worn as a dress with black wellies –anyone???
Then things changed dramatically in 2002 when I meet my son’s father –and fell in love with all things –Ghanaian!!!
I wanted to know and learn about Ghana, my community at large and Ghanaian popular culture (something I knew very little about) –thus, I got very involved with my community –and started rocking Ghanaian wax print cloths, -using them as shawls, scarves, hairbands etc and did the whole ‘Africa’ thing ….way before it became fashionable!!!
I would I buy my Ghanaian wax print cloths from Dalston and Brixton or raid a few peoples wardrobes (wink, wink).. –and then attempt to make my own ‘couture’ pieces by hand –but mostly, a lovely lady around the corner from me --started sewing some bits and bobs for me –and I was hooked!!!
I left Star magazine to have my son in 2004 and fashion wise, I’ve transformed somewhat and have had to learn to embrace the yummy mummy inside of me –and dare I say it, I can still pull it out of the bag –when I need or want to!!!And like me, all the fabulous fashionistas above know how to pull it out of the bag –when needed!!!
Personally, the above ladies are fierce!!! They are stylish, successful, and culturally rich; they have the wealth of being both African and western, of being modern and traditional, and are --savvy global players, something their grandmothers could only dream about!!!
The world might be very aware of the uber groomed Upper East side style mavens of New York, of the fabulously eclectic, rock ‘n’ rollers of London, and the chic Left Bank-ers of Paris, but what the world is about to wake-up-to and celebrate is fashionable African women, –and its brightest star, -the uber eclectic, uber fierce, uber fashionable social player, –the stylish Ghanaian woman!!!
So what is it about Ghanaian women and the fashion industry that seems to gel so well together? -And what do all the above fashionistas have in common?
Apart from their kick arse verve as I stated earlier, all women of Ghanaian origin are -game players!!!The thing is… Ghanaian women are not only uber creative, but we have been blessed with the ability to go anywhere, any place, any time –in the world -and fit in, whilst letting our starlight –shine, without that ‘chip-on-the-shoulder’ thingy…that seems to befall some of our fellow sisters!!!
And it’s not because Ghanaian women don’t care, or aren’t political or whatever, -because we care greatly, –but because we are born to survive and ultimately, –win, and win with a smile on our faces (mercy)!!!!
Ghanaian women are lionesses veiled as rabbits!! Ghanaian women are calm swans above the waters of life, peddling like warriors beneath, –remembering always, that as ‘good’ Ghanaian girls, –we must put (without fail) our best foot forward –always…..
We are trendsetters, forerunners and creators,-think Yaa Asantewaa, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Nanny of the Maroons (Jamaica) –all these formidable warrior goddesses are all of Ghanaian origin and that same pioneering, innovative, idiosyncratic spirit can be found in all the above fashionistas…
** Akwapim ‘It’ girl, Tamale’s finest, Denkyira make-up artist, Accra’s next big thing, Cormantin socialite, Keta naked artist, Sunyani lady-who-lunches, Abandze milk maid, Kumasi fashion designer, Akyem shoe designer, Ghanaian/Swiss eclectic blogger, Agona interior designer, aspirational Zongo singer, Mankessim school governor, Kwahu princess, Krobo magazine editor, Ashanti PR maven, Kintampo fashion stylist, Ghanaian/German sexy thespian, Afro-nista sister, Gyaman vlogger, or Volta art collector -the stylish woman of Ghanaian origin –has many layers.The stylish woman of Ghanaian origin is bodacious. She is fierce, unafraid and unperturbed; mixing her heritage prints (Ghanaian wax prints cloths or Kente) with her vintage finds from the flea markets of Paris, London and New York.
Today she might be sassy and eclectic, –mixing different textures and designs, but tomorrow she is pared down and uber minimal in garbs by a new designer that’s just about to ‘blow’!!!
She might be sporting the perfect weave, long and dark and glossy with bangs today, but tomorrow, she will be afro diva extraordinaire –it’s her propagative after all.
At the very cutting edge of fashion, the above ‘fashionistas’ have many cultural layers. They mix clothes by African and European and American and Asian fashion designers -together. They eat foods from around the world. They are well travelled. They work in all ndustries and pay their own rent!!! And they are not to be trifled with!!!
Exciting and daring –the stylish Ghanaian woman is not easily categorised –and why should she be? She is unique after all..
Buzzing and energetic, contained and stylish, fun, sexy, passionate, ambitious and creative, her eye-for-detail, her desire to be the very best –her best, the Ghanaian woman is that bright young thing riding the tube with a copy of Grazia; she is that woman of colour –surrounded by people of all colours, creed and race at that bar in Hoxton, -she is that woman reading the news in Ghana, she can also be found in the upper echelons of all industries in all countries –around the world, -and even though it might not be obvious as to where she hails from at first glance, -this sister with her bright eyes, fearlessness, unshakeable smile, sexy, something, something verve –is about to go stellar!!!
The stylish Ghanaian woman is not ordinary oOoO…… Viva la stylish Ghanaian woman.. xxPaulina Opoku-Gyimah