21 August 2013


                           “Fashion changes, but style endures” ~Coco Chanel

Image credit: Opeyemi Audu
In the quest to cover their nakedness, some people dress to kill while others just kill the dress... but whichever way fashion is one thing the world cannot turn a blind eye to for it is hugely embedded in all we see around; in nature, art…in our choices about decorating; whether our bodies or any other thing we hold dear.

This year’s World Fashion Day is focused on the spirit and art of fashion. My guest on the stroll is a God lover, tech-entrepreneur, and modest fashionista. She is the founder of Taata Beads and is dedicated to preaching the message of modest, beautiful and healthy dressing—something you’d agree with me is lacking in our society today.

We talked about culture and its role in dressing, what qualifies as modesty in relation to dressing, runway shows, modelling, and lots more. At this junction I must say that I have noticed an alarming graduation in the area of dressing and what people consider fashionable. I do not understand this, and I sought for understanding by taking this stroll and focusing on dressing instead of art which any day I’d rather do. I hope whatever question you have as regards the obvious change in fashion especially dressing will be answered after this stroll. Sit awhile and enjoy:

Ebenezar: Hello Ope, thanks for making out time to have this stroll with me.

Opeyemi: Thanks Ebenezar. It's a privilege to be selected for an interview with you.

Ebenezar: Today is World Fashion Day and finding the right thing to cover our nakedness has been an issue since the fall of Adam and Eve. We've moved from leaves, to animal skin, to wool, etc. Do you think humanity has found that right material yet?

Opeyemi: I don't think it is an issue of whether humanity has found that "right" material or not? Of course there are loads of "right" materials in our world today. I am of the view that; the heart of the matter is simply a matter of the heart. The world we live in today is a dynamic one, where fashion knowledge is increasing daily, and also not forgetting the global emergence of clothing/fashion entrepreneurs who are churning out great clothing materials and fashion styles at the twinkle of an eye.

Image Credit: shutterstock
There was a time in Nigeria for example, where materials like Damask and Ankara were reigning. Hardly would an occasion (wedding ceremony, burial rites etc.) take place where these materials won't be chosen as the recognized "uniform", but after some time, the usage of these materials fizzled out. But of recent, and till this present time, the Damask and Ankara craze has exploded again. 
So the crux of the matter is not about finding the right material, it is rather about using the loads of available materials we have around us now, to make clothes or buy ready-made clothes that would not only be nice on you, but would also cover one's nakedness appropriately. 

You are naked because you chose to dress naked, not because there are no materials to cover your nakedness. Our fore-fathers were not as advanced as we are today, yet they were never dressed naked. Other things being equal, dressing half nude, full nude or naked, is simply a decision you chose to take and a path you chose to thread.

Ebenezar: What do you think about the African culture and fashion? For example in the west, it's okay for a lady to walk around in a bikini at the beach, but it's seen as madness here in Africa. Does culture play a role in dressing?

Opeyemi: I think there is a great correlation between the African culture and our fashion. Sure, culture does play a role in dressing. To the best of my knowledge, the African culture has had great effects on the way fashion is being practiced in Africa. Amongst other things, this could be seen in instances where Africans travel outside their regions; they are always proud of showcasing their cultures via their fashion sense or customized dressing. Also, African culture for example forbids you from leaving your house dressed or clothed in a way that reveals your bodily contours or cleavages (though this is gradually changing at a geometric rate, perhaps due to the influence of the Western world.) 

By the way, I don't think it is their culture in the West for a lady to walk around in a bikini, all these things are simply rooted in their false interpretation of the "freedom of expression" policy, hence the reason a so called ‘star’ like Rihanna or Lady Gaga could go to a super-mart, restaurant or even walk the streets in a see-through pant and ordinary bra. 

Ankara Book Covers designed by Queeneth Agubamah

 Ebenezar: hahaha... okay, talking about culture; the Ankara fabric is generally seen as an African fabric and in recent times we've seen a rise in the popularity of this fabric due to the creative ways it has been used by designers to make bags, shoes,etc. Do you think Africans need to embrace this material more?

Opeyemi: Yes, I think so. I believe there are still other things which we can make with Ankara fabric that we have even not yet discovered. Just as a palm tree has many benefits, the Ankara fabric now serves many purposes too. By embracing it the more, not only are we manifesting our creative capabilities as Africans, we would also be promoting our cultures through the diverse products we produce using the Ankara fabric.

Ebenezar: What is your definition of modesty? A little above the knee; flat slippers; 3 inches high heel; not too tight trousers... What?

Opeyemi: To me, modesty means; displaying your God given beauty by dressing decently in appropriate clothes. It involves dressing in a comely and respectable manner. I love the saying which goes thus; "you would be addressed as you are dressed."

So, whether you are putting on a flat slippers, a sandal, a 3 inches high heel shoe etc., just dress like a king or a queen. The Holy Book in Proverbs 7:10 talks about "the attire of a harlot." Being addressed or seen as an harlot because of one's attire is definitely not modesty for me.

Image Credit: Modest models

Ebenezar: Can you tell us more about Taata beads and what inspired you to start this enterprise?

Opeyemi: TaataBeads is actually a company where we produce exquisite flower vases, fruit bowls and dining table mats with beads. It was a skill I paid a token to learn in Nassarawa State, Nigeria during my service year (NYSC). Back then, I was only taught the fundamentals and just for a few days. 

After I was done with service, and while still expecting a corporate job, I decided to personally work upon this skill of mine. I tried out some amazing beaded styles, gave out some as gifts, placed some on certain online marketplace, marketed others through the social media etc. And after a short while, demands started pouring in from clients... and that was what led to the birth of Taata Beads.

Image Credit: Taatabeads
Ebenezar: Whao!... that’s ingenious, How do you balance your IT work, managing your business, your social work, and your work with God?

Opeyemi: It has been challenging I must confess, God has been my help, but I also think planning is a vital key. I go to work Monday through Friday. I serve God as a singer in my Church, and fortunately for me my rehearsals are always in the evenings, so I just go there after work.

As regards Taata Beads, I devote my weekends to it. As we speak now, we have ready-made products. When we receive orders which most often align with the products we have on ground, we supply them immediately. So that takes away the burden of making the products from scratch. We however produce from scratch too when we don't have products on ground or when clients asks for a customized style or new design.

As for my online businesses, it is just a matter of pressing one or two buttons on my laptop or tab. I can execute online demands of clients anywhere as far as I am connected to the internet.
God has also blessed me with certain partners who are just always there for me. These ones help me to bear my burdens thereby reducing the effects of the stress on me.

Ebenezar: That's a lot of multi-tasking i must say. I'd like to know, will you consider modelling as unrighteous? Can Christians be runway models?

Opeyemi: I don't think modelling as a profession is unrighteous. There was something similar to modelling in the book of Esther in the Bible. The way it was paraded and displayed in the days of Esther had no carnality in it. But with what I see on TV and in magazines nowadays where runway models bare it all and expose their cleavages all in the name of modelling, I don't think it is appropriate for a Christian.

You don't have to wear skimpy and seductive clothes in order to be a runway model. It is no longer about the clothes nowadays, but the tiny legs, skinny stature, sexy skin and hot body. How I wish it is being practiced just as it was done in the Bible.

Ebenezar: yeah... that’s true. One last thought, What's your advice to Young designers and tailors out there?

Opeyemi: Be creative. See your designs going beyond the shores of your country and continent; see your designs opening doors for you where your person can't even be at that point in time. Expand your horizon, think big, and above all, get closer to God; He is the source of all good creative ideas.

Image Credit: bubblenews.com
Ebenezar: Thank you so much for having this stroll with me Ope, I wish you success in all your endeavours. I hope to order a beaded bowl from Taata beads real soon... haha

Opeyemi: hahaha... Sure, anytime! Thank you and God bless you.

To learn more about Modest dressing, and to contact Opeyemi you can like her facebook page; Modest Models. You can also shop at Taata Beads here

I do not know what you consider fashionable and even though I believe fashion transcends beyond dressing, I chose to focus on this aspect for dressing is really important not only to the individual but to the society as a whole especially her moral structure. I believe that even as one seeks to dress and look awesome or as some would say, ‘tushly’ there is and should be a limit; that is called modesty. No one really respects a lady/man who flouts all the rules of decency in the name of fashion so whatever you are wearing either on your face or the rest of your body, be modest, be decent.

Till my next stroll…Jesus loves you.

Ebenezar Wikina (@poeticjazz)

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1 comment:

  1. What a lovely piece about fashion and modesty. Great interview, beautiful responses. Am impressed.