The 2023 Outstanding Women in Fashion & Beauty

2023 Outstanding Women in Fashion & Beauty

2023 was a great year for women in fashion and beauty worldwide, and with all the accolades the Nigerian industries got, we are proud to highlight these outstanding women. From Tems’ viral Oscar outfit to Reni Folawiyo leading the Alara & Brooklyn museum collaboration, it’s been quite a year. Our women, as usual, are making the most significant moves globally, and we love to see it. 

Andrea Iyamah

2023 outstanding women in fashion - Marie Claire Nigeria
Andrea Iyamah via instagram

In 2023, Andrea Dumebi Iyamah, the visionary behind the eponymous luxury clothing brand, continued to put Nigeria on the world map. The brand which operates out of Canada and Nigeria, launched a second store in West Village, New York. The immersive space, infused with citrus scents, reflects the brand’s DNA with natural textures and vibrant colours. With in-store stylists to guide you through pieces that complement your spirit, the brand extended Nigerian fashion beyond borders.

The owner, Andrea Iyamah, earned a well-deserved spot in the Financial Times ranking: The Americas’ Fastest-Growing Companies 2023. This recognition highlights Iyamah’s business prowess as not just a designer but also a strategic entrepreneur. With a fusion of cultural influences and inclusive designs, Iyamah solidifies her place among the most celebrated names in fashion.

Additionally, the brand’s latest collection, “The Dance of Celebration”, has captivated fashion enthusiasts like Eku Edewor & Dodos. A go-to choice for events, Andrea Iyamah is a premium brand we all love.

Jade Oyateru

Women in beauty- Marie Claire Nigeria
Jade Oyateru vis Instagram

The year 2023 was a good one for Jade Oyateru, Uncover’s chief operating officer and co-founder. The brand gained popularity in the beauty industry, and you would hardly find a skincare dump without an Uncover product. Jade is building a brand that champions holistic self-care by emphasising the crucial link between nutrition, gut health, and skincare. 

Jade is pivotal in Uncover’s success, raising seed funding and cultivating a loyal community of nearly 80,000 women. Her commitment to empowering women is evident in Uncover’s mission to revolutionise women’s health and wellness in Africa through safe, nourishing skincare products and educational initiatives. 

With a courageous voyage into the delicate skincare industry, Jade is making a lasting impact in the lives of countless women.

Elizabeth Elohor

 

2023 outstanding women in fashion - Marie Claire Nigeria
Elizabeth Elohor via Instagram

Elizabeth Elohor Isiorho is a pioneer in the Nigerian fashion industry. She has steered her agency, BETH Models, to unparalleled success for over 18 years. Under her leadership, the agency has cultivated top talents like Mayowa Nicholas, Nyagua Ruea, and Davidson Obennebo, to secure campaigns with major brands such as Fendi, Hermes, Prada, and more.

In 2023, Elohor earned a spot in the Business of Fashion (BoF) 500, a reflection of her enduring influence and success. Isiorho further expanded her impact in the industry with the launch of Future Face Global, a top model search initiative. This provides an avenue for talented models to launch a global career. 

Elizabeth’s tireless work in the industry also earned her recognition on Leading Ladies Africa’s 100 Most Inspiring Women list. We are proud to include her in this list of outstanding women.

Olamide Olowe

2023 outstanding women in beauty
Olamide Olowe via Instagram

Another beauty brand that got fantastic reviews in 2023 is Topicals, and Olamide Olowe, the CEO, is one of our outstanding women of the year. Olamide revolutionised the beauty industry with Topicals, which focuses on providing safe and effective skincare products for all skin tones. The brand has garnered fans like esthetician Alicia Lartey, who has made several video reviews on the brand’s product range. 

Olowe’s experience with chronic skin conditions led her to create a brand that addresses the diverse needs of consumers. Since its launch in August 2020, Topicals has secured $2.6 million in funding and achieved rapid success. It also sold out at Sephora within 48 hours of its March 2021 debut at the retail store.

Recognised as one of the Forbes 30Under30 personalities in 2022, Olamide is also an active advocate of mental health. Additionally, she shares her entrepreneurial insights through initiatives like “The Cost of Doing Business”, impacting the world through practical knowledge. 

Olamide Olowe’s journey inspires the new generation of entrepreneurs as she reshapes the beauty industry’s inclusive standards.

Omoyemi Akerele

2023 Women in fashion- Marie Claire Nigeria
Omoyemi Akerele via Instagram

Every year, Nigeria experiences a fashion season like no other during the renowned Lagos Fashion Week. This is made possible by Omoyemi Akerele, the founder of LagosFW, Style House Files, and special advisor to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council. For the past 12 years, Omoyemi has worked tirelessly to propel Nigerian fashion to the world through strategic partnerships. 

In 2023, Lagos Fashion Week partnered with global brands like UNESCO, ANKA, and Spotify, to name a few. This year’s theme, “Standing the test of time”, speaks on the brand’s dedication to inspiring generations of fashion lovers. They consistently provide Nigerian designers with a platform to express their creativity on a global stage. 

Omoyemi is a businesswoman who believes in the evolution and strength of the Nigerian fashion industry and puts in the work to ensure a sustainable fashion ecosystem is built consistently. This outstanding woman in Fashion is putting Nigerian fashion on the world map, and we thank her for it.

Adeola Diadem

2023 outstanding women in beauty
Adeola Diiadem via Instagram

Nigerian beauty brands had a significant boost in 2023, and one of them stands out for its strategic collaborations with influential personalities and high standards of production – Beauty by AD, owned by Adeola Adeyemi, popularly known as Diiadem. A social media personality who has built a sustainable beauty brand, Adeola provides an avenue for makeup artists and models to share their craft on a bigger stage through initiatives like the “Face of Beauty by AD”. 

In 2023, the business opened its luxury space in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, with a viral video of people speaking about the luxury branding of the beautiful space. Not a stranger to collaborations, Adeola also released a collection with fashion brand Hertunba named the “Most Wanted collection”. The collection featured colourful, fluid, and sophisticated pieces created for the stylish woman who loves fashion and beauty. The collaboration speaks of the connection between women-owned brands who have found common grounds in their beauty expression and love for women. 

Adeola is an innovator and deserves a spot on our 2023 women in beauty list.

Reni Folawiyo 

2023 women in fashion- Marie Claire Nigeria
Reni Folawiyo via ThisDayStyle

Deservedly one of our outstanding women, Reni Folawiyo is the founder of Alara, a concept store that redefines luxury in Africa. The store offers a mix of fashion, art and design. A Nigerian lawyer turned fashion entrepreneur, Reni also owns Nok by Alara, an African restaurant in Victoria Island, Lagos. In English, Alara means “wondrous performer”, and Reni epitomises this in her business moves. She created ALARA to celebrate her journey across Africa, discovering talents across Africa, and the need to show this to the world. 

In 2023, she scored a significant collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum for a pop-up at the V&A landmark show. ALARA’s Brooklyn Museum pop-up store exhibited various elements of African culture, including fashion, cuisine, and art, with a particular emphasis on fashion. The partnership with the Brooklyn Museum creates a bridge between African creativity and a global audience, as it introduces the world to the African continent’s vibrant and diverse fashion landscape.

A brilliant performer and example of Black excellence, Reni Folawiyo is deservedly one of our 2023 women in Fashion.

Gbemi Okunlola

2023 outstanding women in fashion- Marie Claire Nigeria
Gbemi Okunola via Instagram

2023 was a year of iconic wedding dresses, and Nigerian fashion designer Oluwagbemisola Okunlola, the visionary behind bridal brand Alonuko, put her brand on the global map with her pieces.  Alonuko transposed from Gbemi’s surname, gained prominence for its illusion wedding gowns, featuring sheer fabrics inclusive of diverse skin tones.

She created a viral moment by designing the stunning sheer wedding dress of popular fitness creator Tori Fine, which captured the attention of many worldwide. The custom-made dress featured intricate embroidery and a perfect match of tulle to Toni’s skin tone, a meticulous process that took over 2000 hours of handcraftsmanship. 

Okunlola’s specialisation in creating these pieces with particular attention to black women’s diverse skin tones addressed a critical market gap. Alonuko’s designs blend mesh fabrics with diverse skin tones, celebrating inclusivity through meticulous research and development in fashion.

The brand has received international recognition with mentions in Vogue, Insider, Huffington Post, and Essence. Okunola’s designs go beyond creating wedding dresses to making brides feel seen and catered to. With Alonuko, Gbemisola continues to redefine bridal fashion, championing diversity and creativity in every design.

Tems

2023 Women in fashion
Temis via Bet Bettencourt/Harpers Bazaar

In the past year, Grammy-winner and Oscar-nominated Nigerian musician Tems entered a fashion era like no other. After her collaboration with Wizkid on Essence, Tems’ style evolved as she gained international fame, performing at various shows.

We won’t forget her viral Oscar moment in such a hurry. One minute, we were talking about the dress, the next minute, “someone” was trending for obstructing the view of others at the event. It turned out it was Tems and Nigerians expectedly stood for their own. 

With a balanced luxurious and ‘alte’ style, Tems and her stylist, Dunsin Wright, have created a unique fashion identity. Some of her most iconic looks include her 2023 Met Gala look by Robert Wun, the luxurious Vivienne Westwood Grammy dress, her famous Lever Couture Oscar cloud dress, and the gorgeous black Monot number she wore to the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party.

Scoring features in Dazed, Elle, and Interview Magazine amongst others, Tems has had quite the impact as a fashion girl in entertainment. We look forward to many more moments from our superstar.

Ireti Zee

 

2023 Outstanding women- Marie Claire Nigeria
Ireti Zee via Instagram

Ireti Zee is the founder of Street Souk, an exceptional streetwear convention that provides a platform for young talents to showcase their brands. As Africa’s biggest streetwear convention, the brand went global with conventions in London, Los Angeles, and Dubai. This is in addition to the Nigerian events in Lagos and Abuja this year. The just concluded Lagos edition hosted over 120 brands, including fan-favourite streetwear brands like wwyd, Free the Youth, and many more. 

In 2023, the dynamic entrepreneur Zee formed strategic partnerships with renowned brands such as Puma, Casablanca, and Nike. At BOF Voices Summit, Zee joined Omoyemi Akirele and Michelle Adepoju, delivering a speech on vital fashion industry discussions as a guest.

With her audacious business moves, Ireti is bridging a gap between millennials, Gen Z, and the vibrant Alte community.

Rounding off the year with these outstanding women is a boost for us going into the new year. They have set exemplary records for Nigerian women who dare to dream. We celebrate their talents and the innovative ways they propel the Nigerian fashion and beauty industries to the global stage. In the famous words of Beyonce, women run the world, and we hope these women inspire you as you progress in your careers. We want to see you on this list next year, babes!

Authors

  • Wumi 'Tuase

    Fashion & Beauty Editor. Wumi holds a PR major with over a decade experience in the media; from print to broadcast and now digital media. Fashion is her passion and she sees Beauty in everything. Some of her favorite things are: a two piece set, white wine, beach days, thrift shopping & cheesy romcoms.

  • Omotola Saba

    Hi, Omotola here, the human form of the 100 Emoji and the fashion and beauty writer at Marie Claire Nigeria. She started writing for fun and merged it with her love for fashion, and beauty. She's mostly at home, picking up yet another new hobby, scrolling through pinterest, laughing with her family or at dad jokes, or sleeping.

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