With the flurry of fashion week in the rearview and awards season in full swing, red carpet fever has gotten the best of us. Are you stuck on what to wear for the next high-octane event? In 2022, the rules don’t apply, so perhaps eschew convention for individuality and self-expression. While we all love the idea of the traditional red carpet and it's by-the-book silhouettes, revisiting those age-old formulas offer a wealth of attractive alternatives. Discover pure glamor in artisanal methods from regional designers offering richly woven textiles, finely crafted and ethically sourced jewelry, as well as clothing patterns rooted in indigenous customs and traditions. The new age of the red carpet is much more thoughtful, prioritizing storytelling through details without comprising great style. Explore a refreshing spin on event dressing in the perfect guide to standing out and shining brightly from behind the velvet rope.
Tap into Unconventional Glamour
Take a break from the safety net of old-Hollywood glam by looking at pieces that defy the norm. But, of course, going off-book doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, and who doesn’t love an element of surprise? A study in complex asymmetry, this black Agiliga Shirt Dress from Nigerian fashion brand Fruché is a quirky substitute for the classic Grecian-style silhouette, a beloved red carpet staple. The dress, made with sumptuous cashmere wool, has an intricate handmade draped pattern filled with unexpected cutouts and knots inspired by wrappers worn by women in Southern Nigeria. Next, blur the lines of the gender binary with a luxurious silk organza pleated coat dress by Lisa Folawiyo that juxtaposes men’s suiting with feminine flourishes. The head-turning print, a dancing woman motif, is handcrafted with glistening crystal embellishments, perfect for an evening soiree or gala. Finally, a lesson in volume comes with Pepper Row’s Igho Dress, a lamp-shaped silhouette featuring cheeky side cutouts and embellished with colorful Krobo beads. The dress offers a charming foil to classic A-line dresses, nipping gently at the waist while still spreading out at the hem in suitably dramatic fashion.
Prioritize Fine Details
Forget looking for the perfect garment; a great way to approach opulent dressing is by building an outfit around statement accessories. This method is ideal for the minimalist at heart or big on bold accents. Pairing a mutedly chic white dress from Andrea Iyamah with the waist-cinching, avant-garde Kathiani Spine Belt from Jiamini provides instant elevation. The Kenyan-based label’s meticulously crafted piece is made from 18 karats gold-plated brass and finished with an adjustable lobster clasp fastening that provides an elegant finish. If you want to put your best foot forward at any high-profile event, Loza Maleombho’s Thila heels will undoubtedly help to up the ante. Revel in the paparazzi’s flashing lights as bronze ornaments handmade by Ivorian artisans adorn the wrap straps of these velvet stacked platform sandals designed in a fierce army green hue. The functionality of this limited edition handstitched La Petite Ameena III bag allows versatility with red carpet dressing. FemiHandbags juxtaposed traditional Nigerian Aso-oke, denim, and leather to create an eye-catching bag that forms the centerpiece of any monochromatic look.
Is there ever a thing such as too much edge? More can indeed always be more when it comes to showing out on the red carpet. Create a fantasy with maximalist nods to Afropolitan excess and the continent’s celebratory culture with vibrant hues and elaborate details. The ethically dyed raffia on the Okoroshi Skirt would have made a fitting look to wear to the premiere of the Nigerian arthouse film of the same name. This cheeky tiered high waist skirt designed by Nigerian womenswear label Cynthia Abila captures the very essence of what it means to deliver a showstopping look with nary a sequin in sight. For those who want to show a bit more leg, the Lara Color-Block Mini Dress from Pepper Row is a perfect match. The soft multicolor pastel dress uses aso-oke, a handwoven indigenous textile from the traditionally festive Yoruba tribe of southwest Nigeria. It features dramatic puffed sleeves and an edgy raffia hem for a kittenish approach to a black-tie dress code. Play it by ear and go for an accessory with movement like these Yatta Fringe Earrings from Jiamini, whose SS'22 collection was all about bold statements. The chandelier design comprises blue and white glass beads suspended from a gold-plated brass spine-shaped stud for a sculptural silhouette that is at once playful and sophisticated.
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