•How She Created Her 3 Piece Erelu Attire
Have you noticed that the Erelu of Lagos, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu wears only white? If you haven’t we can tell you she does. And we can tell you why. A while back, Erelu spoke to City People Magazine about how she adopted white as her main colour.
“I have been Erelu of Lagos since 1974 and I had spent a lot of time, abroad in France, Switzerland and America. All I wore were beautiful silk clothes. When I opened my shop, I made Aso Oke into European wears. We appeared in front of Harpers & Queens, we appeared in Vogue Magazine. But when I came home I found that it wasn’t adequate wearing my European outfit, I had to sort of conform to our traditional way of dressing.”
“I looked at the men. When they wear Agbada, they wear skirt under it. So I decided I can do that too. That was why I then decided to have my Erelu Agbada, my 3 pieces Erelu Agbada. That way, it is corporate. I can still go for my business meetings and diplomatic functions.”
“Still looking smart. It was something new and wonderful and the Nigerian ladies just loved it. And they bug caught on. One of our 1st ladies copied it and added her own twist to it. I was tickled by it. Every time I see somebody adding a twist to it I feel wonderful. People are so imaginative and they love to fly with beautiful ideas.”
“It is fantastic. When I took our Aso-Oke to change it and dramatise it, it was still that heavyweight. Today we have all sorts of lightweight and paper weight of Aso Oke. That is fantastic. If you are truly a leader in fashion what you want to see is people playing with it and taking it to greater heights.”
“It has become a billion dollar industry. And to feel that you are part of that dream it is a great achievement.”
“I came up with 3 Erelu Agbadas. Apart from the first one I described, I have another one.
The Princes of the family all wear Dansiki, buba and then tie on the shoulder. That is also part of what I adopted. So, when I am tired of the Agbada, I can do the one I tie on the shoulder. And then there is the more traditional one but I can’t wear the traditional one everywhere. That is why I did the Agbada and Toga one.
Have you noticed that Erelu Abiola Dosumu wears only white to events and functions? And have you noticed that she is very stylish and fashionable in the way she wears it? Why does she wear white all the time?
“Is it not limiting, she was asked. “Well, perhaps the motivation behind it mate it easy. I was told how the first Erelu who was the Queen mother used to dress. Traditionally we don’t wear Buba. We just tie our wrapper on our chest. And that she would wear the grandest clothes. And she was something else. But when she is at home, at the palace, and we all have our Ose Iga every 9 days. That is where you adjudicate all problems, sorts out all your problems. And the Erelu will sit with her white wrapper and sort out things. There is a popular song in her honour, that she does not go to the market or farm, but she sits at home where she adds value to solve the problems of the world. We have that song for the Erelu.
“So at that time when I came back, I had to contend with a lot of old men who still considered me to be too young. So everything they said I should do as the holder of that little I was determined to do, just to0 show there old men that I can do it and excel in it because they thought I was going to come and bastardise everything and spoil the tradition.”
“So that was one of the reasons I have kept to wearing white and be true to the expectations of my title.
Wearing white has become like second nature to me that I don’t know what you can give me to wear any other colour. I have become so much in love with wearing white. In fact, if I wear any other colour now it will give me goose pimples.”
But is it not limiting? Is it not monotonous for a stylish woman like her?
“Yes, people will say that. But if anything, it has also sharpened my capability to design. If you now have one fabric, one colour. Then, of course, I have to vary it in terms of designs and variety of designs. You can be creative in the way you wear it. Of course, you can play with fabrics”.
“There are beautiful fabrics to play with. There are fabrics that are white but come in different texture, different designs, different mixtures. You can play with a basic white fabric, but you can put a bit of silver or shining linings on it and I can decide what I want to make with it. I can decide I want to make something flowy with it or a straight jacket. It is so versatile. What wearing white has done to me is, it has sharpened my capability to design. If I open my wardrobe you will find that not one dress is the same style as the other. And I do design most of my things. I have then made out by great designers in Nigeria and abroad. They are always quite excited about my designs. Whenever they design for me, my designers are usually excited the way I would wear it, the way I would turn it over. Many of them love to make clothes for me. They also learn a lot from my designs.”
“I design most of the white outfits you see me wear at functions. I come up with various designs and styles. Some people copy my designs and go ahead to make them in other colours. I have worked with many designers like Ade Bakare and Adebayo Jones. Many of them acknowledge our contributions