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This Lagos soulstress ain’t no Barbie

Temi Dollface isn’t your average naijapop star. With her retro dress sense and a defiantly original sound she calls ‘drama soul’, she’s in a galaxy all of her own where afrobeat, jazz, hip hop and blues all twinkle and cookie-cutter divas don’t dare to roam.

Born in Lagos, Temitope Phil-Ebosie started writing songs aged seven. After completing her education in the UK, she signed a record deal but was soon frustrated by the lack of creative control afforded to her and decided to head home. She came out strong with 2013’s dance track Pata Pata, the video for which sees her portray a 1960s housewife turned Fela dancer on a mission to dump her man. She followed this up earlier this year with the sweet Mandela tribute ditty Keeper Of The Sun with IBK Spaceshipboi. She’s now setting up her own label Awe-Dacious Records, has collaborated with Keziah Jones, Bez, Ikon and SDC and is currently working on her debut album. GQ dubbed her the “African Janelle Monáe” but add Ella Fitzgerald, Missy Elliot and Betty Boop into the equation and you’re still not close. Here’s why.

What is drama soul?
It is forward-thinking music that bridges continents, cultures, and eras. It’s also a sound informed by my love of fantasy and the theatrical.

The video to Pata Pata is amazing.
Thank you! I wanted to parody the idea that consumer products can change one’s life and thought about how household goods used to be marketed to women as a means of allowing them to free up more time to preen themselves and be more appealing to their husbands. I decided to turn this idea on its head and create products that help cut the man out of your life instead.

Describe the Temi Dollface live experience.
A colorful, energetic one-of-a-kind joy ride packed with fanciful, maximalist arrangements, and clothes that often do a performance of their own. I like to deliver another world for my audience to escape into. I am not afraid to go where the music dictates.

What is your personal take on fashion?
It’s whimsical, fearless and ever evolving. I hunt for clothes everywhere from my gran’s closet to designer stores and the high street and can spend hours rummaging through rails of vintage.

Who are your favourite designers?
Viktor & Rolf and Hussein Chalayan for the grand scope of their ideas and Dolce & Gabbana and Dior for their ultra-feminine silhouettes. Fendi, Maki Oh, Miu Miu, Sophia Webster and Nicholas Kirkwood are all the stuff of dreams too.

Are you positive about the future of African fashion?
The fashion world is starting to take note of African fashion and the fact that designers from the continent and diaspora are bringing a fresh perspective right now. We once saw visions of Africana through the eyes of western brands but now our own fashion is making its mark on the international scene.

What did you enjoy wearing from the Kisua shoot?
I'm having a bit of a love affair with 60s silhouettes at the moment so I felt like I was channelling Jackie O in the cropped monochrome jacket and tulip coat.

Images: Lakin Ogunbanwo
Make-up: Debola Falana
Location: Stranger Lagos
Words: Helen Jennings


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