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Designers & Models

Maria Borges – Model Of The Week

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Maria Borges

Angolan model, Maria Borges, was born and raised in the country’s capital of Luanda during a civil war. At only 11-years-old, Maria lost her mother. Her then 16-year-old older sister took over the role as Maria’s caregiver, leaving the two girls to depend on one other during years of violent warfare and conflict.

Maria initially entertained the idea of modelling simply as a means to earn extra spending money and save for University. She participated in the Elite Model Look Angola competition in 2010 and placed in the top ten. Though she didn’t win, she scored the attention of a local model scout who quickly placed her in an overseas agency. After her first few modelling opportunities, Maria’s sights fixed on New York and the no-longer-unrealistic plan of following in the footsteps her idol, Naomi Campbell.

The top model hit the streets of New York City sprinting. She booked 17 shows in her first New York Fashion Week season, dispelling any doubts industry professionals harboured about the newcomer. In her second season, she became a Givenchy exclusive.

Perhaps most notably, Maria became the first-ever model to walk the runway of Victoria’s Secret annual show with her natural hair. Under the encouragement of British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Edward Enninful, and Riccardo Tisci, Maria decided to sport her short, natural afro in her third year walking the show. The following year, two models followed suit on the VS runway. Maria’s unabashed move to embrace her natural beauty is only one feat in her overall goal to inspire women ­ namely those struggling to find themselves represented.

Maria has appeared in beauty campaigns for Givenchy, Bobbi Brown, L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline, Tommy Hilfiger, C&A and H&M. In 2016, Maria became a global ambassador for L’Oréal, signing a multi-year deal spanning across hair, makeup and skincare products.
To date, she has walked the runways of Givenchy, Tom Ford, Balmain, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, Elie Saab, Marchesa, Yeezy and Victoria’s Secret to name only a handful.

Maria Borges

Maria Borges

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Designer of the week – Alima Bello (Bello | Edu)

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Alima Bello

Bello | Edu is a fashion brand designed for women to amplify esteem, purpose and a lust for life. Our brand mantra is to choose minimalism over excess, add value not mass and to be wherever function meets great aesthetics. Led by its founder and Creative Lead, Alima Bello and supported by a small workforce, the brand produces two major collections a year, which are responsibly manufactured in Ghana with fabrics sources internationally.

Debuting in 2014, the brand was nominated for 2015 Ghana Fashion Award Emerging Fashion Brand. Each piece is designed and produced for versatility but stays true to structure and form taking into consideration the five pillars of the brand: Passion, Conservation, Timelessness, Functionality and Joie de Vivre.

Bello | Edu’s identity continues to grow with its aspirational approach to design, quality and craftsmanship.

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Designers & Models

Belinda Baidoo – Model Of The Week

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Belinda was born in Accra-Ghana. She arrived on the fashion scene after winning Top Model Afrique 1998. She then went on to sign with Q Model Management in New York and is now represented by MSA Models which is also based in New York. She has been on billboard advertisements in New York’s Famous Times Square.

Her work for prestigious fashion clients includes the likes of L’Oreal, Nike, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Clairol, African Pride, Mizani, Victoria Secret, Donna Karen, Marc Jacobs, MAC Cosmetics, Target, Clinique, Guinness, Motorola, Vogue, Essence, Cosmopolitan, Pride and Canoe.

Now living in Accra-Ghana she established a modeling agency dubbed B2Models to mentor and train young women to develop their careers in the modeling and fashion industry of Ghana and Africa as a whole.

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Designers & Models

Kristin And Kofi Essel (Third Crown) – Designer Of The Week

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Kristen and Kofi Essel

Applying their collective experience and passion, the husband-and-wife team launched the brand and named it Third Crown to celebrate the merging of two forces coming together to form something new. With their collection, the designers celebrate their mutual fascination with structure, architectural lines, and bold accents. 18k gold, silver and gunmetal are used to create a mood that’s at once restrained but full of attitude. Each piece is defined by clean lines and an understated chic, turning them in to wardrobe essentials.

Yet Kristin and Kofi Essel of Third Crown—a jewellery line with a strong, modern aesthetic that’s made fans of Beyoncé and Solange Knowles—make it look effortless. The couple who works together walks their own specific kind of tightrope, toeing a delicate line between true satisfaction and, well, sanity.

In their 20s, when most of their peers were still discussing hookups over hangover brunches, they were plotting a partnership that was both personal and professional. After exploring the idea of launching a fashion line together, the duo decided four years ago to focus on jewellery, drawing most of their inspiration from architecture movements across the ages.

Kofi, who grew up in London and Ghana (where he attended art school) before moving to New York to study at FIT, was transformed by a close examination of the Renaissance. “When you’re raised somewhere, no matter where, I think you tend to look outside of that place for inspiration,” he says.

Kristin, born in Queens and raised in Florida, sees each of their collections “as one chapter in the book of Third Crown.” The Marcy series—inspired by the idea of a melting arc—reinterprets the original Cuban link chain popular in ’90s hip-hop, a style that felt “generic” to Kristin and Kofi. “We thought, ‘We can make a necklace that’s made with our own link,’ ” she says.

This lovely couple have a young son who just learned to walk himself, and keeping it together gets that much trickier.

Kristin and Kofi Essel with their Baby boy

Kristin and Kofi Essel with their Baby boy


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Arts & Culture

Beyoncé Collaborates With Balmain

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Just before Coachella was rechristened Beychella, Beyoncé Knowles and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing had an idea. It happened in a rehearsal, while Beyoncé and her dancers were practicing in their Balmain-made looks inspired by the marching band uniforms of America’s historically black colleges and universities. It clicked: Why not make a Beyoncé x Balmain collaboration that could make those poignant graphics available to all of Bey’s fans clamoring for a piece of history?

On Friday, July 13, Balmain will launch a three-piece Balmain x Beyoncé collection in its Paris flagship, with the items going on sale on balmain.com and beyonce.com the following day. Comprised of the yellow and pink sweatshirts Beyoncé wore on stage at Coachella, the collection also includes a black tee with the same sorority-inspired graphic.

Proceeds from the collaboration will benefit the United Negro College Fund, following Beyoncé’s $100,000 donation to four historically black colleges after her Coachella set. “The donation was the main goal of this collaboration,” says Rousteing. “We don’t forget where we come from. This is really, really important – I come from an orphanage, you know. I think there is something really emotional about our collaboration.”

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