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Ngozi ‘Zed Eye’ Pere-Okorotie on Styling Lionheart, Working With Genevieve Nnaji and the Challenges of Costume Design




What was the inspiration for the costume design? 
The inspiration was basically modern classic, clean tailoring for each character but still maintain a traditional Nigerian take. We really wanted  the public to understand each characters role.
For Adaeze’s role played by Genevieve Nnaji, she wanted the character clean, tailored , edgy with structured silhouettes to express her feminine side which you can see throughout the movie with the power pieces. Adaeze’s off-duty style was also sexy in a silent way, less is more with her character.
I pulled my inspiration from Scandal character Olivia Pope, but streamlined the edge for Adaeze to suit her character , with a Nigerian slant on how a character like hers would be seen living, working in Nigeria and for the audience in Nigeria and overseas to relate to her character in today’s culture.
A lot of us are Ada and can relate to being in her shoes without a doubt.
Why did you pick certain designers ? 
The designers I chose to use their pieces were suitable for what was required for the female characters, and some of the clothing for the female characters were made from scratch and all the male cast’s costumes were all produced on set with the production team I set up on ground. Before I got to the set, I already had my consultation with Genevieve Nnaji, and she already had some of her Wardrobe made by Elvira Jude, the rest we had designs from St. GenevieveGrey Nike, Zed-Eye, and for the leading men we had an Enugu based tailoring company (Chike Onyefuru). He really delivered for me with all the designs I asked him to make for the men, we worked well because he listened to my demands and perfectionism!!!
I was really on him to get the quality and finishing required to match the standard of what Lionheart male characters require. Having the production team on ground definitely helped to deliver every costume as required, it was challenging but it had to be done.

What was working with Genevieve on this like ?
Working with her was one of the best experiences I have ever had working in Nigeria.
We have known each for years, over 10 years of friendship and I literally put our friendship aside and so did she, when it comes to business Genevieve is focused and no games, knowing that about her person and how dedicated she was to the movie, and it was my first big movie to costume design, all I had in my head were her word, “Don’t let me down, I trust you to do a great job“.
My friendship with her was one thing, but she is my boss and I worked on set everyday with my team to deliver no matter what, she played her part by making sure everything I asked for to execute the job was provided, and that is every costume designers dream.
Did Genevieve’s personal style, influence your plan for  her character?
To be really honest I will say her personal style did come in to play for her character Adaeze, Genevieve has a lot of similarities with her character as Adaeze , they are both have classy and quite reserved persona , and that reflects a lot in the way the costumes where chosen, they both have a minimalist approach to fashion.
They both have that natural beauty that never goes wrong with their strong focused, go-getter attitude . They both like similar colours too, in the movie you see Adaeze wear some pops of colour but not as much.
Genevieve on the other hand loves to wear a pop of rich colour and she has great taste, and a great eye for colour palettes. The comfort she loves to apply with her personal style is also a great guide I used for inspiration.

What challenges if any did you have during the styling process?
It was very challenging, honestly speaking lol. But I wouldn’t change anything at all, the whole experience was a learning experience for me and my team, I learnt a lot about myself as a leader of my team and how quick I can think on the spot to get results. I will never forget the hot sunny days, market trips I had to make with my assisting team, and to convince the Igbo traders to lend me the pieces I needed, I haggled and spoke my native tongue just to win their trust to let me rent some of the costumes and props to suit some of the lead male characters, some of the female main characters plus the extras.
The challenge was all worth it seeing the finished product of the movie, I had to give it my all, LionHeart  is a win and I am so proud to be part of the history made for Nigeria, thanks to Genevieve Nnaji.
What are you working on next ?
I am getting a lot of scripts to work on, but I am very selective of the projects I get myself into or be a part of as a brand. I am working on my Zed-Eye clothing line at the moment , my new collection is in the works as we speak, it’s been over 5 years since my last collection, I am quite excited about the new collection too!
I’ll be launching soon. Apart from that, I am also working on some image brand consultation for a lot of my clients in the creative industry and my cooperate client’s.

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