Daily Archives: April 9, 2010

Friday Feature: Orleans Designs

Hazel Aggrey of Orleans Designs

I first heard about Orleans Designs when I interviewed Ruby of KUA Designs.  I decided that I should check it out. It was an instant WOW.  I like to describe Hazel Aggrey as a lady who has coined Afro couture meeting with a more contemporary vibe. The results, a versatile line that is awfully attractive and made to capture the iris and pull it right in.  Her designs were truly meant for the light. When I saw the way these clothes flow, with silk and movement, I knew that anyone who could wear these garments would instantly feel beautiful. We instantly connected.  You can also find her on Facebook here.

First of: Can we get some background info from you.

I was born in Germany but then moved to Nigeria at a very young age, where I spent 17 years of my life. I have very fond memories growing up as a child in Lagos.

I am of mixed heritage – my mother is German and my father was Nigerian.  Growing up in Nigeria, I naturally developed a close bond to African culture.  In addition, having traveled around the world (to Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean and many more countries), it led me to combine both my African roots with the rich cultural encounters I came across in my travels. This combination, of both cultures, has formed the basis for my collection.

Tell us a little about Orleans Designs

Hazel Aggrey-Orleans is the creative force behind Orleans Designs.  Orleans Designs is a new woman’s wear and accessory label.  It draws inspiration from colorful memories growing up as a child in the culturally dynamic city of Lagos (Nigeria).  Also, this line is inspired by my Germanic roots. West African prints and symbols form the basis of the luxurious silk patterns; silk overcomes that restriction that is often carried via traditional cottons. {Using her mixed heritage, Hazel has cleverly combined her two worlds into her work}. The results produce more contemporary features in the garments. Orleans Designs prides themselves not only on their one of a kind beautiful prints but, also, in the skilled and exquisite craftsmanship that goes into each garment.

Autumn/Winter


What inspires your designs?

My inspirations are: my kids, my mixed cultural backgrounds, and lastly but very importantly, my simple love for color; color inspirations are most heightened during the grey wintery months when everyone around you is dressed in black, grey or navy blue. I like nothing more than to make a stunning entrance and it is my mission to bring out the colorful goddess in every woman.

Traditional West African Ankara prints are always on stiffer cottons. I have decided to contemporize them and play around with soft, flowy, silk fabrics. For me, it gives it that extra luxurious feel and there is nothing wrong with modernizing our African prints and fabrics.

Who are your favorite emerging designers and what is it that you love about them?

I love Eva Sonaike’s cushions. I really like the way she has coupled the use of African fabrics with leather and velvet. The finishing, of her products, is immaculate. I can’t wait to see the fuller range of products she will soon be offering. www.evasonaike.com

I first read about Kua Designs in Canoe Magazine and thought, wow, her bags are stunning. Since then I have been seeing a lot of her publicity. It always helps when the designer herself is just as lovely as the bags themselves. www.kuadesigns.com

In terms of clothes designers, I am a fan of anyone who is innovative, has a story to tell behind their designs and doesn’t take themselves too serious. I also love designers who use a lot of color as I am not a ‘black’ chic.

Where can people buy your items?

Currently our Spring/Summer COCO collection can be bought online at www.orleansdesigns.com

What is your best attribute?

I would say patience and perseverance. I am a very committed person – once I promise to do something I always do it even if it means bending over backwards.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
‘You do not need to see the whole staircase – just take one step at a time’.

I always set myself high goals, never knowing how on earth I will achieve them but everything always falls into place in the end, so I try not to worry too much.

Excluding yours, what company or brand do you admire the most?
I admire a lot of brands but I always like a brand with a story. I appreciate it more, if I know how it all started.   With the company, Wellicious, it all started with a lady drawing up sketches on her kitchen floor and staying up long hours to pull it all together. She made a lot of mistakes but learned from them and is now taking the world by storm with her beautiful yoga clothing. www.wellicious.com

Favorite lyrics from a song?
I guess one that comes to mind is Mariah Carey’s old-time favorite – Hero.

Dreams are hard to follow

But don’t let anyone tear them away

Hold on

There will be tomorrow

In time, you find the way

Word you live by?

It’s not the person with the great idea who succeeds but the one who follows it through. I don’t talk much. I save that energy for getting things done. Nothing in life is easy but it depends on how eager you are to succeed. I am very keen and I’m not going anywhere till I have achieved my goal of being a recognizable brand worldwide for beautiful prints.

Spring/Summer

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