This open letter from a Nigerian industry insider has gone viral and has tongues wagging!
I was watching Nike Oshinowo’s new TV show and in the first episode she said something that made me chuckle. It was something along the lines of “it takes a village to get me to look like this”. I smiled. Thank God someone is telling the truth! I often shake my head when I read the comments sections of Nigerian blogs where men and women criticize celebrities’ fashion sense and fling the words “Get a stylist! She needs a stylist!” Do you think it’s easy???
As someone in the public eye, I try to look good. Sometimes I look good and sometimes I don’t. And I really do try!
First of, there are not up to 10 GOOD stylists in Nigeria – I don’t know why. The fashion industry is growing rapidly but the number of GOOD stylists remains small. The average GOOD stylist charges as much as N50, 000 per look! (Take for example Bubu Ogisi). And that’s just the outfit. So if a big event like the AMVCA is coming up and you call on a stylist- you pay N50, 000 for the outfit that he/she will get for you. It might or might not include shoes. You have to return the clothes after the event.
Then you have to do hair and makeup, which let’s say costs N15, 000 if you go to the salon to do the hair and then go to the makeup artiste’s studio. For example MUD or Shomya – If you want them to come to you, they will charge you double for home service! Theodora of Doranne Beauty charges N25,000 and up for hair and makeup. Some stylists like Veronica Odeka ask you to put them on a monthly retainer – the last time I asked how much she charges was 2012. The rate at that time was N200,000 per month. The good thing was it would cover all events, photo-shoots and even a wardrobe overhaul. Again, this depends on how many events you attend. Note that this was back in 2012. I heard her star client Genevieve Nnaji pays her more.
Speaking of Genny, how many movies has she been in recently? How does she afford all her designer this and that and all her fabulous trips abroad? I’m asking! Biko show us the way! Her new fashion line seems to be doing well – but she just started! It’s 2015, who knows how much it is to get Veronica to style me now? I did not have money then and though I can afford it now, I refuse to be giving someone 200k every month! So I have been styling myself from Day 1! Lets do the math! 40k per outfit + Hair & Makeup (studio or home service) – Between 65k to 85k PER EVENT!!! OR N200, 000 + every month!
Let’s be honest, how many Nigerian female stars can afford this? Please let’s not get into how some female celebs flaunt designer stuff online all the time. Half the time, their money isn’t from their craft. (I won’t get into that today). The likes of Chika Ike who actually take vacations every three months and buy all these designer things – what exactly do they do for a living apart from being celebrities? We also know the ones who flaunt very good imitations (I see you, Mercy Aigbe). The pretty actress has been seen rocking 6 different Hermes Birkin bags! Those bags cost roughly $14,000 per bag! So she bought them all? *Blank stare*
Unfortunately the red carpet is important. It helps with image, helps with awareness of your brand and generally reminds your fans, foes, colleagues and brand managers that you are around. Appearing on the red carpet has helped a lot of careers. Look at Toke Makinwa, Uti Nwachukwu and Zainab Balogun. They appear often on the red carpet and they look good. They also have endorsement deals. They are making money. Let’s address other things like logistics. You are dressed and you arrive at the venue. Most of the time, this venue is Eko Hotel. If you are driving yourself, you meander around the hotel until you find parking – or your driver does.
Then you walk to the red carpet. It is HOT! No jokes! It’s HOT, there is no AC or Fan and you are sweaty and our Nigerian photographers don’t care! If you have been in the game for a while, you will know some of these guys by name. So you ask them to wait while you quickly dab your face and adjust your outfit. Your outfit is now probably wrinkled (depending on the fabric) from sitting in your car. Some of the photographers don’t listen and just snap away. They will not even tell you if it looks good or not. Thank God for photographers like Kola Oshalusi who take their time to get good shots.
Many photographers do not know how to photograph from the right angles. Sometimes when you see your pic on the blogs the next day, you almost weep! Some of the female celebs that look terrible in photos from red carpets actually look good on their Instagram pages in the same outfit with the same hair and makeup. For example Waje – She usually posts a picture of her outfit on Instagram before she hits the red carpet, when you see the picture on the blogs the next day, you wonder if it’s the same person! Sometimes, I think blog editors pick the not so flattering pictures of celebs so that they can get heckled in the comments section. Anything for clicks!
Speaking of angles, you do know that stars in Hollywood actually have been taught how to pose on the red carpet by experts right?! We have no such experts here! So sometimes, celebs get creative. You dress yourself from your closet or get a designer to make or borrow you an outfit. Sometimes, you just have to make do with what you are given.
That’s just getting ready for an event. If you are not naturally slender like me, you have to work out constantly or resort to body magic or both. You have to eat healthy- this is not easy all the time and it’s not cheap in Nigeria.
Abroad, there are a plethora of nutritionists, aestheticians, plastic surgeons and personal trainers to ensure that the stars look their best. Uzi (celebrity trainer) charges over N100,000 per month. Ponle (Another trainer) charges over $100 per workout session. We all know with N500, if you buy rice and meat from a buka – you will eat well. N500 cannot buy you a salad! It might buy you some miserable looking carrots and cucumbers. That’s it! A facial at a good spa costs at least N12,000.
I made enquiries at a dentist’s office; I wanted to whiten my teeth. I was told it costs N80, 000. Just to whiten – not to get a new set of teeth! I’m not making excuses. I just want you to think about these things and know that IT IS NOT EASY! So think twice before you type ‘get a stylist’. It is a LOT of hardwork and dedication! I duff my hat to the women who almost always look good – The Genevieves, Tokes and Nike Oshinowos- these women have spent a fortune and it shows!
I’ll be back with more write-ups as an industry insider.