On Saturday 14 September, the second edition of Gèlè Tea, the afternoon tea and fashion show that raises awareness of Alzheimer’s through the Gèlè took place at London Bridge Hotel.
The prestigious event showcased style king and award winning designer Adebayo Jones (also the co-host of the afternoon alongside Esther Alade); new designs from award winning Kosibah, one of fifteen international designers chosen to create a special limited collection for Porsche, Nigeria; Mayfair couturier Clarisica Gill who drew inspiration from the ‘wrapper’ for her collection; and rising star Evelyn Nwajagu of Ijeve Designs.
Gèlè Tea introduced four women acknowledged most recently in The Voice newspaper as some of the best gèlè stylists, Juliet Esiri, Lara Extravaganza, Bolanle Okunsanya Feyita and Juliet ‘Onyeka’ Osodi who are setting the standards for Gèlè couture and taking gèlè to new heights.
Gèlè Tea’s increasing popularity was evident in the number of ladies queueing outside the Shakespeare Suite in the London Bridge Hotel, London, to have their gèlès styled by Lara Extravaganza who got whisked away by demand.
It was with a ‘Posh’ collection of gèlès matched with new designs for Gèlè Tea from award winning Kosibah Gèlè Tea commenced. The gèlès had an aristocratic elegance to them, delectable colours of black, red, yellow and emerald green complementing the sumptuous gowns created from kente-oke and silks. The addition of bold pieces by JoDelyn of London, for Gèlè Tea, made the outfits perfectly ‘Posh’ as befits a Kosibah collection. The showpiece gèlè worn by gorgeous model Rosemary who truly did it justice with her grace.
Top gèlè stylist and renowned make up artist Bolanle Okusanya Feyita paired with Clariscia Gill for the classic chic section. Feyita’s butterfly collection known as ‘Gèlèpoque (new dawn for Gèlè) is described by fashion writer Puvana Sakthivel as “a revelation – exotic and colourful giving the models a unique sense of gracefulness.” Gill’s designs were exuberant, youthful and charming.
Lyze Bamigbola Silas, the milliner renowned for her elegant hats and fascinators, launched the Bedazzled collection. The black hat modelled by Symara drew deserved attention – grande, bold and belle, while the Bambigbola Silas fascinator, made especially for auction, proved a hit.
The Avant Garde section featured gèlès by Juliet Esiri and they pushed boundaries bringing the headwraps into stunning couture. The attention grabbing “Lobho”, a black veiled Gèlè architecturally sculptured, with a veil for mystique, was a centimetre way from the Londinium’s ceiling and fitted the brief to create a gèlè to rival the Shard.
Esiri’s partnership with Ijeve Designs shone. Her exclusive designs for Gèlè Tea included jewels on the gown matched with the Lobho, an outfit made from traditional Abeokuta cloth, for seventy plus model Chief Mrs Disu that echoed past histories.
With ‘All that glitters is AJ’ on show for the finale of the fashion showcase, Lara Extravaganza matched iconic couture designer Adebayo Jones in the fashion stakes with the showpiece gèlè ‘Majesty’. The garments were opulent and richly textured, with the use of gold and heavy embroidery drawing on African traditions. Though one would think of an imperial court and European dynasties with the Extravaganza and Jones collection, it sang of Africa.
The collection, enhanced by divine jewelry from Dapri Jewels, showed why gèlè is the crown of head ties. Model looks incorporated the boldness and extravagance of gèlè from international makeup artist Facequizite and celebrity make up artist Juliet ‘Onyeka’ Osodi who created images expertly crafted by TosynMak, Faces of Bodin and the addition of renowned makeup artists Makeuppro.
Elsewhere amongst the guests, ‘The Sinem’ Gèlè, designed by Juliet Osodi, for yours truly attracted much praise. “The ‘Sinem’ a multilayered gèlè, designed by Juliet Onyeka Osodi, mirrors the classic cup shaped rose. Sinem means ‘heart’ in Turkish, a rose is the symbol of love, this is a gèlè for a woman who is cherished or about to be. The original gèlè is silver but imagine it in deep red,” said Yinka Sunmonu of Gèlè Tea, also known as Madam Gèlè.
Gèlè Tea also introduced a newcomer to the list of talented gèlè stylists – Bim Elufowoju. Another talent, a more musical one, was singer songwriter Lánre who sang ‘Memories (Gèlè song), which is the theme tune for Gèlè Tea. It is about a woman losing her memory to Alzheimer’s who wonders who will remember her life when her memory deteriorates. The sound of guests singing the chorus ‘Ewo gèlè ori mi yaya’ (look at my elaborate gèlè) echoed through the hotel.
Gèlèpoque celebrated vintage Hollywood glam, new looks and the launch of gèlè shoe clips by rising shoe designer Dionne Gooding and the gèlè cake, which complimented the wonderful afternoon tea, and the unstoppable rise of the gèlè, captured live by artist Tonderai.
Adebayo Jones said, “Gèlè Tea is a trailblazer. It uses Gèlè as couture and matches it with fashion to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s, which we tend to remain silent about in the community. Gèlè Tea rocks.”
Follow Gèlè Tea on Twitter @gele_tea
Photo credits: Segun Olotu for Gèlè Tea