Natasha Nyanin spent a while in Accra recently and she shot this stunning editorial inspired by one of the most standout looks from Valentino SS19 Haute Couture (you may remember Gemma Chan‘s stellar turn in the hot pink confection at the 2019 Oscars).

Sharing the story behind the fabulous look with a series of captions on Instagram, she said:

For the second day of my mummy’s 70th birthday celebrations, she insisted that guests come clad in gold, white or some combination thereof. Knowing I wouldn’t have enough time (or the right friend, let’s face it) to capture the “ridiculous” thing I decided to wear, as inspired by then-recent couture shoes in Paris, we raged against dying light and irate denizens of Jamestown to immortalise this torture I’d put my beloved seamstress through 🙂

When I found this @begumkhan starfish earrings, I felt their whimsical circumstance and yet elegant lines were just the finishing touch I needed. So before sharing scenes from the party, today I’ll share a series all shot by @colbyblount right before he hopped on his flight for Accra…


Not long before I left NY for Accra, Pierpaolo Piccioli sent a torrent of fabric across the couture runway of Paris that punctuated the very beating of my heart. I’ve long been in awe of the poetry and pageantry he achieves in his alchemical clothesmaking: a certain quixotism and profligacy of fabric which paradoxically feels as though each inch has its purpose and every yard has its story.

When my mother charged me with wearing gold for her shindig and with the PPP’s recent rhapsody on my brain, I combed the streets of the garment district for the right taffeta doré, sent 20 yards of the gilded stuff to Atlanta to my darling seamstress Ms Anh who, with only one assistant, there together this homage and simulacrum I have since dubbed my #ValentiNOT in 3 days). I knew we could never achieve the full mastery of the original but I do doff my hat to Ms Anh for coming so magically close all while working from her garage in the state of Georgia…

This dress is a little more than a dress. It stores within its gathers the moment when I realised my mother has accepted me for who I am. Since we’d almost always argue over what she felt was my outrageous mode of dress (which to me felt like arguing over my very personhood (not because my clothes make me, but because they’ve long been as natural to me as my DNA), I was fully prepared for an earful when I showed up to her party (I’ll show you soon). But when I ran up to her as she stood in front of a pink floral wall, taking pictures with each of her hundreds of guests, and put my arm around her, she whispered with a laugh, “that’s a lot of dress!” “I know, I replied: 20 yards! And Uncle Victor had to carry it in a separate suitcase for me”. And then we both laughed some more as I pulled her in for a photo. In that moment I felt that something subtle but seismic had shifted in my relationship with my mother. There’d been signs of this shift my entire trip long (well for the 15 seconds I did get to see her as our respective schedules had as passing like two ships in night). Could it be that in addition to loving me as nobody else can or has, she’s finally accepting me?


Photography @colbyblount