Shoes are super important to an ensemble lest anyone forget: “A woman in good shoes is never ugly” declared Coco Chanel and us Bella Stylistas couldn’t agree more especially as footwear magic is available from Kene Rapu, Shem Paronelli and Jide Ipaye of Keex. We give you the skinny on these three brands as if you are looking for a footwear re-boot this is a great place to start.

So you are off to the beach and the slay swim-wear is packed (Andrea Iyamah or Kamokini obvs!) and the Céline shades are on and looking better than they did in the ad campaign. A Didi Isah sunhat lies casually atop your head and a slick of tinted gloss on your lip, for that natural beach babe thrown-together-but-I-still-look-impeccable-vibe. What do you put on your feet in such instances? Well it is obviously Kene Rapu, purveyor of some of the most covetable slippers ever.

Speaking about the cult line she launched in 2011 Kene stated:

“Our  aim is to produce designs featuring clean shapes and clean edges, which are very much fuss- free and always trendy. There has been a resurgence in the love for afro-centric clothing and accessories;  and we currently enjoy working with a mix of carefully picked ankara print fabrics.”

We couldn’t agree more and would definitely suggest these are the optimum way to pimp even the simplest ensemble. Not just on the beach but also double-dutying on those off-duty days – think denim shorts, a simple t and a pair of Kene Rapu’s to complete the look.

However, if you are more of a team Off-White or good ol’ Adidas Stan Smith’s sort then Keex are the shoe brand for you. Creative Director Jide Ipaye’s has chosen to re-imagine or inject a certain Afrocentric sensibility into the humble sneaker elevating it to a must-have and a talking point for any look you put together. We especially cannot get enough of the IBILE Collection – which is an homage to his hometown Lagos’ 50th anniversary. For those of you scratching your heads as to what does IBILE stand for – it’s an acronym of the original administrative zones of Lagos: Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos and Epe. Ipaye explains the inspiration further thus:

“IBILE also means Local, Native or Heritage in Yoruba depending on the context in which it is used. Our IBILE collection is a weave of inspiration from the city of Lagos and the Yoruba peopleAs the commercial capital of the most populous black nation in the world, the city of Lagos is has a very rich history and tradition. if you’re headed this way, there are things you absolutely must experience in order to earn the status of a true Lagosian – IBILE!”

What does this shoe love-letter look like in real life? Well we are talking the city’s skyline etched out in red. batik patterns in blue and yellow and mural-esque and simple slip on in the colour’s of the state. Rock with skinny jeans, or a slinky dress if you are feeling super-edgy with no need for further elevation.


Finally, there is Shem Paronelli Artisanal who burst onto many fashionista’s radar courtesy of an arresting display at LFDW in April 2017 ( I still cannot forget the treasures buried in sand concept – a complete whaat? moment if there ever was one).

Paronelli followed it up with a pop-up at Alara and surprise-surprise  it was a complete sell out. Interestingly, he does not think in the linear way when he creates:

“My work is an ongoing narrative. I don’t always think in collections because I’m always working. My truth is in first awakening people to embrace the beauty of the organic, beauty in the simple things, in the overlooked and in the “common”… My work is about embracing such values like love, patience, perseverance & acceptance. It is for the non-conformist who has no desire whatsoever to look like anyone else but a true version of themselves.”

The approach has resulted in a timeless aesthetic that takes staple shapes such as loafers, brogues and desert boots and court shoes but subverts them either by use of palette, materials or proportion. A key winning piece being the Iyi Mules which are part gentleman-loafer part easy breezy slide of no set gender’s sole use. Androgynous tailoring is the obvious combination to rock with much of his collection – but there is also something quite elegant about rocking with a loose floor sweeper tunic, or if your legs can handle it a micro-mini.

Of course there are others making serious moves on the footwear scene – but these three are undeniable leaders of the pack, creating their own design language and responding to us, the ever discerning, constantly curious Bella Stylista in search of the happy-ever-after to their Shoe-Story. For the building blocks of your 2018 footwear wardrobe, look no further. And because we believe in making your shopping life extra easy – some links for your viewing and purchasing pleasure: Kene Rapu KEEXS