In the final week of the Decade Project, launched in commemoration of our 10-year anniversary, we are recognizing the place of fashion in the growth of African literary culture. And who better to illustrate this than Chimamanda Adichie who has contributed in no small way to making African literary culture more fashion-conscious.
Adichie’s love of fashion is a well-known story, one that has been recounted in interviews and detailed in this essay published on the Financial Times. Growing up, she enjoyed watching her mother get dressed for Mass. She enjoyed the frequent visits to the markets, going to the tailor, getting measured, and so on. She loved designing and wearing hand-me-downs passed on by her elder sisters. She was fashionable, and everyone noticed. While studying medicine at the University of Nigeria, Nssuka, she won Best Dressed Girl.
But fashion, for Adichie, hasn’t just being about personal style. It has also been about breaking grounds in the global literary scene. Within the African literary scene, Adichie was one of the first to popularize the trend of the fashionable writer, a writer who saw fashion as being part of their identity as a public intellectual. Fashion, for Adichie, is also about making meaningful contribution to culture. In the past few years, she has used her influence as a literary celebrity to elevate the Nigerian fashion industry.
But the question remains, how did Adichie go from being the breakout novelist of the early 2000s to running a fashion-focused Instagram account with over 600K followers? In what follows, we relive the big moments in her journey to becoming a fashion influencer.
February 20, 2014: Fashion Manifesto on Elle.com
Adichie explored the feminist implications of loving fashion.
March 3, 2014: Featured on Fashion Bombshell Daily
Chimamanda sent in her photos for consideration as Fashion Bombshell of the Day. That singular act took her fan by surprise, but it ultimately showed that she was ready to reinvent what it meant to be a high profile literary figure. Literature and fashion were not two mutually exclusive spheres of influence.
August 2014: Launched Chimamanda’s Style Files
Chimamanda’s Style Files, now discontinued, is a blog that was run by “her team” and that featured updates on Adichie’s style.
March 2015: Adichie is the March feature of Vogue UK’s popular “Closet Diaries”
September 2016: “We Should All Be Feminists” is Featured on Christian Dior T-shirts
Maria Grazia Chiuri, Christian Dior’s first female creative director, made a bold feminist statement by featuring the title of Adichie’s viral video on Dior Tshirts.
October 2016: Adichie is the face of Boots No7’s beauty campaign
In an interview with Vogue UK, she said of the campaign, “Real women are already inspired by other real women, so perhaps beauty advertising needs to get on board.”
Spring 2017: Adichie sits Front Row at the Dior Show in Paris
She sat front row at the fashion show in Paris watching models strutting the runway dressed in T-shirts bearing the borrowed tagline. Or rather the universal language that will change the conversations on gender equality.
May 2017: Chimamanda Launched the Project ” Wear Nigerian” Campaign on Instagram
To support the unrelenting and talented Nigerian fashion industry and to bring global recognition to their brand, Adichie dedicates her Instagram account to styled fashion pieces by mostly Nigerian fashion brands. Pictured below are her nieces, Kamsi, Chisom and Amaka who curate the Instagram page.
December 2019: Adichie Brings Dior to Lagos
In what many saw as a bold move on behalf of the Nigerian fashion industry, Adichie leveraged her status as a notable fashion figure to host Dior’s Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri at a formal gala event in Lagos. The aim of the event was to create opportunity for dialogue between Nigerian fashion industry stakeholders and one of global fashion’s prominent figures.