When you think glam and stylish, t-shirts are definitely not the first fashion items to come to mind, but that is not the case with world renowned author cum fashion icon, Chimamanda. She is a stellar example of beauty and brains, and when she is not mesmerizing the world with her genius writing and oratory skills, she kills it in fashion.
Chimamanda is not just a fashion and style icon who has adorned outfits from some of the world’s greatest designers like Dior and Richard Quinn. She also is very in tune with her Nigerian heritage and is audacious about showcasing Nigerian designers which she wears very proudly and promotes the #MadeInNigeria movement or #WearNigerian.
In recent times, Chimamanda created a new style for her person; not just for the sake of being fashionable, but also as a way to pass certain critical messages as well as pay tribute to her late parents. She does this wearing T-shirts. Yes, you read that right. Chimamanda has made something extraordinary from T-shirts.
Beyond wearing the T-shirts, she designs them, and in her The New Yorker Essay, “Notes on Grief“, she opened up on the therapeutic experience of designing these own t-shirts as a way of dealing with her grief. In her own words;
It is designed as therapy, filling the silences I choose, because I must spare my loved ones my endless roiling thoughts. I must conceal just how hard grief’s iron clamp is. I finally understand why people get tattoos of those they have lost. The need to proclaim not merely the loss but the love, the continuity. I am my father’s daughter: it is an act of resistance and refusal, grief telling you that it is over and your heart saying that it is not, grief trying to shrink your love to the past and your heart saying that it is present.
In honour of her birthday today, here are 10 times Chimamanda made T-shirts stylish again.
Why does the image of two red butterflies on a T-shirt make me cry? We don’t know how we will grieve until we grieve. I don’t particularly like T-shirts, but I spend hours on a customization Web site, designing T-shirts to memorialize my father, trying out fonts and colors and images. On some, I put his initials, J.N.A., and, on others, the Igbo words “omekannia” and “oyilinnia”—which are similar in meaning, both a version of “her father’s daughter” but more exultant, more pride-struck. — Excerpt from her The New Yoker Essay “Notes on Grief”