Tag Archives: black designers

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.


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.


Stevie Boy Does Lady Gaga Shades

Stevie Boy makes shades that redefine creative, futuristic and, non-boring in the eye wear industry. His line is filled with well-thought geometric lines crossing, vertically and horizontally, to meet the vectors of style. These Shades have transformed into a couture item that is now sought after in the Fashion Industry.  Everyone from Rhianna, Beyonce and Lady Gaga are putting their faces forward while wearing Stevie Boy’s high-end couture eye-frames. Rhianna and Kanye West wore Stevie’s Frames for Run This Town.  Stevie (aka Steven Strawder) is unique in the way that he doesn’t produce carbon-copies of other people’s work. He is his own niche. He creates his products with originality, and style. He even had his own fashion line, “Toxic” (which he later sold).  Impressive work for a boy who started at age 18 back in 2007 and now 21 he’s taking off big time. Well done Stevie Boy.  High art meeting fashion.  Check out more of his work here.

Stevie Boy Himself. Creator and master-mind behind the brand.

Designer: Steven Strawder

Friday Feature: Robert Tyndale of Room 322

I recently had the pleasure to interview Room 322 Owner, and Creative Designer, Robert Tyndale who is, without a doubt, a very impressive Young Entrepreneur!  It was inspiring to get a fresh, “get focused” approach to business ownership, targeted at those who, like me, have never fit the mold of what is essentially conventional.  So when I got to hearing his start-up story, selling streetwear from his car and working hard to meet buyers and sales reps, it resonated  a similar beginning to FUBU mogul Daymond John.

Tell us a little about Room 322

Room 322 is a lifestyle boutique based in Edmonton, Alberta. Unlike the typical clothing store, we focus mainly on lifestyle brands that are based on the streetwear community.  Streetwear seems to always be interpreted in different ways, so to make things clear, “streetwear” is not your stereotypical fashion that is made for only “black people”, but actually the fashion that is formed and embraced from the streets. Room 322 offers a variety of different apparel, footwear and accessories that have roots and a history behind them.  Our customers love this and, this unique sense of history keeps them coming back.

How would you describe your style?

My style, over the last two years, has changed and is something that I constantly work on improving. My main style is a combination of streetwear and contemporary mixed together. When it comes to my combination I pay attention to detail. You will see me rocking a wooden, beaded, soul power GoodWood chain, with a plain v-neck, and Evisu denim and a loud pair of Jays. One thing that I truly have a passion for is footwear. Any outfit cannot be complete without the right pair of kicks on your feet. I am the type of person who will wear a simple, clean, outfit with some banging shoes on my feet that will turn heads.

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

One of my favorite emerging designers is: Philip T. Annand who runs a growing brand called Award Tour. Besides his interesting designs, I admire the concept behind Award Tour; the concept that emulates a constant pursuit of enjoyment. Like Philip I am currently attending University while running a business, so when he talks about his challenges, I relate to them a lot. It is just a matter of time before he gets fully into the fashion world and Award Tour will be internationally known.

Who, or what has been your greatest fashion influence?

Initially one of the biggest fashion influences for me is one of the co-owners of Room 322, Nathan Tyndale. From day one he had a keen appetite to rock the latest brands; He is also, one of the select few when it comes to owning  unique pieces of clothing but, gradually, brand designers became a great deal of inspiration for me.  Learning about how each designer incorporate their lifestyles into a brand and the way they infuse their perspective of fashion into the brand draws people, including myself, to be drawn into the culture behind fashion.

Fashion tip for the season?

Men’s accessories should be made an “all guy’s new best friend”.  Beaded bracelets, leather bands, causal skinny ties, pocket squares, bow ties, clean watches, should all be make their way into your closet for 2010. Lastly, clean and fitted is the way to go. It has been this way for a while, but in case your still behind, wearing fitted tops and apparel is the way to go.  Big and baggy just looks old.

What would you say has been a fashion crime of the season?

I have to laugh there has been, so many fashion crimes in 2009 especially in my city, but the latest one is the shemagh scarf.  Recently it has finally died out, but at one point everyone, including their baby, was rocking one. Every time I see one, I just get upset because too many people have been wearing them.

What is your best attribute?

One of my best attributes is my perseverance of doing things the best I can and after. improving on them. Once, when I am finished a project, I always think of ways how I can make the next one better, or, how to convey a message more effectively. This gives me motivation to always outdo myself and constantly grow.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Rather then advice, one of the best quotes/quotes I have ever read are:

1. “Get use to getting Used”~ j.Sakiya

2. “Quality or flaw… I love Djing, and I will continue to follow my passion”~ DjO Nonymous~.

People always associate getting “used” in a negative aspect, but if no one want to use you then you’re basically useless. The second quote is more inspirational that keep me focus and on track.

Excluding yours, what company or brand do you admire the most?

One of the most aspiring brands I have come across lately is Brooklyn Circus. It a clothing store based in Brooklyn that features a “in house” brand called BKC, which is a clean streetwear that has a strong history and foundation. I admire the founder Ouigi Q. Theodore (aka The Bearded Man) because of the passion and dedication he has in fashion. A lot of his pieces you will see the great attention to detail he puts in.  Details makes BKC stand out from the average person.

Favorite lyrics from a song?

I know it’s easy to imagine, but it’s easier to just do,
See if you can’t do what you imagine,
Then what is imagination to you?

~KiD CuDi

Word you live by?

Creativity… the simple textbook definition is someone who is artistic, or imaginative, but creativity in practice has a much deeper meaning. Having the courage to follow your passion, or idea, even when everyone around you is against it is an extreme challenge to overcome. Whenever you try to do something very creative and original you will have an uphill battle. So, everyone who is truly creative I respect you for what you do and encourage you to aspire to it.

Take a Trip Inside Room 322

Inside the store @ Room 322

There’s a Circus in Brooklyn

Who doesn’t like a circus?  Especially when the circus eludes a world full of color, sights, mystical ventures, sounds and unique characters. Truly, I am speaking about a world of tight-rope walkers and unicyclists all of whom are fearless risk takers!  So in sum, Brooklyn Circus takes style to a level of individual, unique, creativity.   A sense of  “we are not all going to dress like the mannequin”.

I would say it’s a mixture of Afro-punk, urban influence, vintage and eclectic pieces.  Brooklyn Circus has a diverse team that works together to bring unique influences on the whole look of the Circus.   Located in San Fransisco,  New York, and Chicago, all are convenient hubs to catch all the moving demands for street wear and other fashions.  I would say that this circus is one full of artistic, detail-oriented, artists.  Check out their acts and creations:

Gentlemen of Style

Spike Lee is a fan.

Teamwork and creativity

All photos Courtesy of The Brooklyn Circus

Arise Magazine and African Beauties

Arise featured these three beauties during the 2008 Africa Rising event.  It was also a  chance to feature  couture/custom pieces by Nigerian designers: The supermodels (Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek & Liya Kebebe) were best dressed by Nigerian designers, Deola Sagoe, Fati Asibelua of MOMO Couture, Lanre DaSilva Ajayi of LDA. As I browsed through the magazine, I was overcome with glee. As a woman of African descent, I was proud to see that African fashion is booming. 

Alek Wek In Deola Sagoe

Alek Wek in Deola Sagoe

Naomi Campbell in Deola Sagoe

Naomi Campbell in Deola Sagoe

Liya in Deola Sagoe

Liya in Deola Sagoe

Alek Wek in MOMO Couture

Alek Wek in MOMO Couture

Liya in Lanre DaSilva Ajayi (LDA)

Liya in Lanre DaSilva Ajayi (LDA)


Sean Jean’s Many Looks

Sean Jean featured many looks from Classy to casual night out. This line continues to prove that it can be playful, serious and head-turning at the same time.

The 3 piece suit is a wardrobe uplifter.

The 3 piece suit is a wardrobe uplifter.


Casual and workable into another outfit.

Casual and workable into another outfit.


Wearable for day and throw a blazer to get a night look.

Wearable for day and throw a blazer to get a night look.


African Collections on the Runway

Arise Magazine did a coverage of an event that showcased African Fashion Collective at New York Fashion Week in February 2009. It was the group’s fashion debut at the prestigious fashion extravaganza. Xuly Bet, Tiffany Amber, Stoned Cherrie, and Momo presented their Fall 2009 collections to the fashion elite. 


african collections @ NYC fashion weekAfrican cllctn @NYC fashion wekfashionrecordssignature