Meet the Crew: Isoken Ogiemwonyi, Costume Designer

The Smart Money Woman show however also highlights the fashion of the African megacity. The women are in bold colour palettes and power suits, and don fantastically vibrant daywear, serve larger-than-life prints, slinky silhouettes and statement workwear aplenty. The Smart Money Woman is an education in how to channel pure, unadulterated, Eko Miami style in the 2020s.  Associate producer and costume designer on the project Isoken Ogiemwonyi was responsible for dressing the actors alongside her on-ground team; supporting not only established Nigerian designers but emerging brands who don’t always get mainstream visibility. Each brand was chosen carefully to reflect each character’s singular sense of style. Take a deep dive into the show’s stellar fashion, talking about inspiration, how she did it all from Toronto, what goes into working on a production of this scale and the biggest challenges she faced.



What was your inspiration for getting into costume design?

Working in different parts of the fashion value chain in fashion in Nigeria has taught me that we can attack the problem of domestic consumption in different ways- and one of those ways is leveraging the other more visible creative industries like music and film. I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection of fashion and film, and the transformative effect fashion has on how we perceive things in general. My interest in costume design started around 2015 – I’ve actually worked in consulting capacities on some film and TV but this was my first time being responsible for a show from end to end. I was very hands-on with the book and the world-building, and the characters so I really wanted to bring them to life the way they were originally envisioned.


What was the inspiration behind each character?

Like I mentioned, each character had its own distinct style DNA.  For example for Ini’s character Tami we were really inspired by Kate Moss on the 1999 Gianni Versace runway and the photo series Juergen Teller shot of her following that show. It was such a short moment in time for La Mosse – but it has always been seared in my memory. I also kind of tapped into the energy of Iris Apfel and Tracee Ellis Ross, both women who really own their style, and I love that joyful energy they bring to their looks. For Ladun, who is played by Eby Eno, a young Elizabeth Taylor inspired us.


What’s your favourite aspect of the styling in the show?

I love the moments when the girls get together I think those are the clearest points where you can see how different but complementary their style is.

You really get a sense of how they play off each other but still maintain a very unique sense of self.


What were the big inspirations for you?

I started my research with the book, in order to build out each character’s core aesthetic, then I focused on the script and made notes on what scenes I thought would be seminal to the character. From that point I watched some of the amazing films and TV shows of the last decade; more for a vibe of how costume informed or foreshadowed the importance of the scene or the character arc. These included iconic films like A Single Man, Sabrina, Clueless, the Seven Year Itch, Sex and the City, Cashmere Mafia, The Devil Wears Prada, The Great Gatsby, Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Belle de Jour. I also looked at a lot of street style images from international fashion weeks circa 2017-2019. I then branched a bit from there and looked at editorials and imagery I’d saved as reference points for each.


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