Dressing rich and powerful

I ATTENDED the M-Net Face of Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, on Saturday thinking that I was going to be the best-dressed in my little ensemble by a hot local designer.

When I saw Nigerian ladies walking down the red carpet in their Ankara-inspired clothes, I wanted to run back to my hotel room to cover myself and sleep.

In Nigeria any celebration is a chance to look good and clothes are a symbol of status and wealth.

From head to toe Nigerian women make sure that they impress. The make-up is impeccable on their beautiful dark skins.

There is not a single hair out of place and the nails are well done. The only turn-off about Naija women is their attitude.

In their minds every woman is after their hot men. Maybe their fears are not far-fetched after all. Nigerian men seem to be a hit with South African women.

There have been many reports about South African women, especially models, frequenting their country with their rich men.

Back to fashion, according to top Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo of Jewel by Lisa, in Nigeria being fashionable is a priority for more than 70percent of the Nigerian population.

"Every female is not only trying to be fashionable but also to be a fashionista. Nigerian women love to dazzle. This is something that has been transferred from one generation to another."

Folawiyo adds that in recent years the Nigerian fashion scene has witnessed an astronomical upgrade that western fashion is fast losing its taste among many Nigerian women and many are choosing the ankara, which is one of the hottest trends in Nigeria today.

This was evident in many Nigerian designs showcased at the M-Net Face of Africa ramp recently.

Most Nigerian designers, including those that are based overseas, were inspired by the ankara, one way or the other.

Formerly referred to as Dutch; this fabric acquired the name "Ankara" when the Turks made a cheaper version. Without a glamorous look, the fabric was regarded as indigenous.

Fashion-savvy Nigerians have taken the fabric, improved it, and have represented it to the world.

Folawiyo says the ankara is so versatile, easy to wear, and works wonderfully well with any essential accessory.

It can be worn in combinations done tastefully and with a critical eye to its colourful nature.

These days Ankara can be combined with satin, chiffon, linen, and even sometimes lace fabric.

It has infiltrated the South African fashion scene as well. These day in South Africa the ankara has also become a symbol of class.

Wealthy women usually show up in events such as the opening of Parliament and weddings dressed up in an ankara.

Tomorrow many parliamentarians are likely to rock up in dresses made of this West African fabric.

lHow to care for your ankara?

It can either be hand or machine washed. Do not wash your the ankara in hot water, it will only fade away.

As heat could cause your Ankara to easily fade and discolour, it is best to iron it inside out.

The ankara is very durable and will stand the test of time. It will always look good but being wax, it will eventually begin to slightly fade.

There is no need to soak your ankara in water for more than you need to, this might weaken its fibres.

After washing allow to dry properly before storing.

Also avoid washing your Ankara with detergents or acidic soaps; rather use quality bar soap.

Avoid washing your ankara too often so as to prolong the lifespan. - Additional info www.fashionafrica.com