Model and ex-Big Brother Africa winner, Karen Igho tells Ademola Olonilua about her fashion and style
Do you wear your natural hair at all?
I’d rather rock my natural hair than weaves . Natural hair is easier to maintain than weaves and it is more convenient.
But do you have a favourite hairstyle?
I love braiding my hair. Braids are versatile and can be packed or styled in different ways. It’s also cheaper than weaves and easier to maintain. There is no stress to it at all. There are no bad hair days with braids. I can roll out of the bed and go out with my braids without doing anything to it. That is impossible with weaves.
Does it cost you so much to braid your hair?
It depends on the hair style and the hairdresser. Braids don’t cost as much as weaves. I won’t put a price to it but I spend enough to look good. No ridiculous amounts though because I don’t wear any hairstyle for long.
How often do you visit a salon?
I visit the salon every week. The nature of my job as a showbiz personality does not give me the luxury of keeping hair for any time longer than a week.
How long does it take to make your hair?
It depends on whether it’s braids or weaves. Weave is a maximum of two hours but braids can take as long as a whole day, depending on the length.
Do you feel incomplete without your make-up on?
I love looking natural. I always prefer natural look or light make-up over the heavy ones. I can do with or without makeup. I don’t feel like anything is missing without it.
You really love tattoos.
Yes I’m a tattoo lover and I have a number of them.
Do you think they are fashionable and do they have a meaning?
As I said earlier, I have a number of tattoos, so I must think highly of them. Yes they have meanings. Meanings I won’t go into because my tattoos are my private life.
Do you patronise Nigerian designers?
I buy both foreign and Nigerian labels. I don’t favour any over the other. It all depends on the occasion and the designs readily available at the time the need arises for them. And then again, our Nigerian designers are very talented and have taken fashion to a whole new level. A lot of our Nigerian designers are now recognised at international level and make clothes of the same quality. So, why won’t I patronise them? I am a proudly Nigerian babe and I always identify with my own.
To you, is there a clear cut difference between fashion and style?
I believe your style is your fashion. It all depends on how you combine the things you want to wear and matching the right colours and outfits for the right occasion. As for me, I always ensure I wear the dresses; the dresses don’t wear me.
What influences your fashion trend?
I really don’t know. I honestly don’t have anything I can pinpoint as an influence on my fashion trend. I know I love the good things of life and also quality things.
What is that fashion item you can’t leave home without and how did you come about it?
There’s nothing I can’t leave home without. I don’t have any ‘must have on’ fashion item, not even a make-up item. I never attach unnecessary importance to any item. Won’t I go out if I don’t have the item available in an emergency?
What’s the most expensive item you own and how much did it cost?
My most expensive possession has to be my house. Of course, I won’t say the price it costs but that is the most expensive item I have.
Do you have a fashion weakness?
Shoes! Shoes! Shoes and more shoes! I can never have enough shoes. I have a strong weakness for shoes. I own lots of shoes, a whole lot. My whole house is filled with shoes. I’ve even lost count of the number of shoes I own.
How is it competing with men in the industry?
Competing? With who? Why? See, the industry is big enough for everyone, so there is no need for any form of competition or rivalry. There is enough space for both men and women. But after all is said and done, staying relevant so far has been God.
Would you say your celebrity status scares men away from you?
It attracts and it scares men away too. It scares some because not every man can handle or understand fame. It takes a strong and understanding man to be able to be with a female celebrity. The attracting aspect comes from when they just want to be with you because they want to be able to say ‘I’ve been with Karen Igho.’ It takes God’s grace to be able to sift the chaff from the wheat.
Are you in a relationship?
I’m not in any relationship at the moment because I need to concentrate on building my career. I have a lot ahead of me. Love is unpredictable though; if my man comes along the way, then it is all well and good.
What do you admire in a man?
Confidence. If a man is decked up from head to toe in a designer label but lacks confidence, then he is lacking the most important fashion accessory of them all. Arrogance should not be confused for confidence though. There’s a very thin line and it should not be crossed.
What is your take on cleavage exposure and ladies wearing skimpy and tight dresses?
Whatever rocks anybody’s boat; anything that makes anyone happy, the person should go for it. Who am I to judge? So far they feel comfortable in the dress and they are rocking the dress properly, that is okay for them.
You recently became a British citizen, how did it happen?
Yes I did. I lived in the UK for ten years and fulfilled all other necessary requirements to make me a British citizen and I did become one.
Do you intend to leave Nigeria for UK in the near future?
No. I’m still a Nigerian citizen. I’ll forever be a Nigerian. I have Nigerian blood flowing through my veins. I still have my Nigerian passport. Nigeria is my home anytime any day, no matter how far I travel, where I travel to, how long I’m gone for, I always yearn to come back to my fatherland.
What are the challenges you face while building your brand?
It has not been easy but I thank God. We Nigerians find it easy to believe everything we hear about celebrities and some of these false stories can put a dent in anyone’s image or brand. So staying afloat of the scandals and different stories has been by the grace of God.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been going from one set to another, shooting different movies. Also, the shoot for my reality television show will soon start. I also have a charity event I’m working on.