Rosemary Okeke shot into limelight in 1984 as Miss Nigeria. A dimunitive but smashingly pretty girl, she beat other contestants to win the coveted crown. And she became an instant celebrity. Twenty-five years after Rosemary has gained some experience from the vagaries of life.
In spite of the glitz that trailed her reign as Miss Nigeria, she remained publicity shy. Today, she bares her mind on important issues concerning her private life exclusively to Saturday Sun.
Life after crown
Since after my reign as Miss Nigeria I have got married, had a daughter. My daughter, Roxanne Adekunle Wright is 18 and is in college in Canada. Nothing extraordinary has happened to me. I have just been living a good life mostly in the presence of God.
Defunct Miss Nigeria Beauty Pageant
It is regrettable that Miss Nigeria has stopped. It is a confirmation of one’s feeling about our government’s non-chalant attitude. It has been our attitude to work. We have a management problem. It is sad. I wish it didn’t go the way many of our reasonable projects went. We’re good at neglecting things. Sometimes these things have a way of boosting the country’s image. The pageant would have stepped up our tourism profile.
Proliferation of pageants in Nigeria
Any opportunity to give our young ones a focus is a welcome development, instead of going about idle, they are engaged in one pageant or other. However, the pageants should be properly coordinated. This attitude is still affecting business in the country. There must be a reason somebody should start a good thing and dump it.
How she got into fashion business
My interest in fashion is natural. It is a God-given talent, which started when I was very young, I grew up to see my mother make clothes, so when she is not around I go to her sewing machine to put together funny things. So, even before I became Miss Nigeria, I had the flair for fashion. The outfit I used for Miss Nigeria beauty contest, I designed it myself. Today, I own Rose fashion located at Ikeja. I came into fashion fully in 1986 in Benin after my reign as a queen.
How it has been since then
It has been a beautiful experience over the years. There have been many challenges along the way but with God on your side, the sky is your limit. Despite the challenges, I am still in the business, fashion is not just the business for me, I desire to do it because I am happy with it.
I think the revolution in ankara is a welcome trend. When the ban on importation of fabrics came, people were not happy with it, but along the way everybody had to look inwards. The African prints tried to bring out the skill in all of us. Again, it was a balance for some who couldn’t afford the expensive foreign clothes, but ankara settled the problem. It is good it happened all the same. I am really enjoying the boom. We are getting more customers because people could afford to go to the market and buy 10 ankara and bring to you to sew for them.
Fashion then and now
Some things have gone off and some are in. Fashion is like every other thing. Things get better every other day. What we had then was good then. Everyday, there will be ideas and people put it together and it works. So, fashion has improved.
Cleavage is not a fashion. It is a personal taste. It has nothing to do with the way fashion has gone these days. It is the influence of the Western world, but it is how you adapt to it. People are mixed up in their dressing. When the Westerners produce outfit they produce for what you can wear for dinner, leisure, or lunch. But here ordinarily people wear dinner dresses to the office because they don’t know and someone goes on to imitate them. Our dressing shows ignorance. People mix it up and think they are being fashionable. When I see them I just feel the need to educate them, but not everybody handles corrections or criticism the same way. So, when you see such things, you keep them to yourself. They impact people negatively and before you know it you see fashion disaster all over the place.
Nigerian fashion industry
Nigerian fashion industry has come a long way. There is a great improvement from fashion accessories to wears and everything fashion. The fashion business is also doing very well because fashion is a must. Nobody comes out naked. Fashion is a necessity just like food. So, people in fashion business could always be in business.
I get inspired sometimes by merely looking at magazines to see an outlook and it inspires you. Sometimes it is something that you saw and some inspirations come from nowhere. Some also come as a dream. And sometimes, it is something your imagination captures.
Soon, I plan to set up a foundation as my contribution to charity. I have every intention to start that shortly. The only reason for its delay is for me to do the first things first. I do have every intention to start a foundation as my quota to charity in Nigeria.