It is no news that Mai Atafo, Fashion designer extraordinaire was the creative designer for Noble Igwe and his groomsmen’s much talked about suits.
He grants SV an exclusive on the challenges he faced rounding up 10 groomsmen for fittings and working with menswear influencer, Noble Igwe on his big day among others.
How did Noble’s personality determine the entire outfit for the groomsmen?
Noble’s personality was all over the outfit; He had a great say on how he wanted it to look, we agreed on the colours and a huge part of that was the fact that we did not want to do anything that was conventional but we also wanted to be practical with our choices, and brown suited all the criteria.
The waist coats were last minute inclusion and if you noticed we had two colours for them, five of the groomsmen wore cream waistcoats while the other five wore soft mustard. That was because, some people are a bit particular about wearing a hue like mustard, so we had five of them made and cream waist coats made for the other half.
We had wine ties to match the bridesmaids colour and the most interesting piece was the pocket square which had filled edges, we thought it would be fashion forward to do that and the brooches was another element of style that stood out.
As a whole, the entire look was classic, more like a modern day dandy especially with the fedoras, which was all Noble’s idea, I just made sure they did not go for any clashing colours, hence the black hats.
SV: Were there precautions you had to take?
No, none at all. Everything was very seamless. Noble was around for everyone’s fitting just to be certain everything was detailed to the T.
SV: Any inspiration behind the cuts?
All classic fitted and bespoke tailored.
SV: What was the most challenging part of it all?
Mai: The number of men, having to get everyone together and getting fittings done in time. Some of the men were not in the country and the ones that were, were very busy. It took a while to wrap up all that. Noble fitted his suit, a couple days to his wedding, there was one he did not even try on, I just took it to the venue and he wore it.
SV: Of the groomsmen, who was the easiest to work with?
Ebuka was the most cooperative especially as a best man, but they were all very cool to work with. It was mostly a schedule thing, they were all very busy and finding time for fittings was a bit tough. Overall they were all great.
SV: Who was the toughest and was there anyone finicky about fittings as a whole?
Mai: Actually M.I was the toughest but not in a bad way, he was really busy, and finding the time was a bit of a herculean task but we figured things out eventually. No one was particularly finicky, maybe Segun, he was more like ‘I am too old for these things, guys do not be doing this to me’, but on the wedding day, he actually saw it all come together, after everyone got dressed and he loved it.
SV: Was Noble a groomzilla with his outfits? And how did you arrive at the three outfits?
Mai: Noble was very patient and cooperative, not even close to a groomzilla. He actually let me pick the colour for the first outfit, he said ‘Mai, imagine this is a showcase for you, let yourself out, I am not one of those grooms who will hold you back’. So I picked wine, and I told him “if it starts to be a trend tomorrow, we know where they got it from” and since Noble’s wedding I have seen a couple weddings where the grooms were wearing wine coloured suits.
He did not fuss about anything, I just gave him two samples of wine and he picked one. The last outfit, which was a blue velvet tuxedo was my idea, the colour however was Noble’s choice and it was a spectacular option.
The second outfit was all Noble, he had a certain image that he wanted which he shared with me, as seen on his wedding, he was not wearing the jacket, it was hanging on his shoulder. I told him, if you are not going to wear the three quarter jacket, the waistcoat should be elaborate, so we got the double breasted waistcoat with metallic buttons which went very well with the hat he was wearing.
It was very seamless working with him.
SV: Do your clients determine the kind of material you use for your designs?
Mai: Well some of them want to, but I know fabric better than they do, so I still do the choosing at the end of the day.
SV: How does your designs affect your source for materials?
Mai: I usually have my fabric before I start designing, even if I have an idea how the colour would be. Ebuka’s wedding was one of those that required a particular kind of green and we kept looking for it until three weeks to his wedding. We were glad we waited that long to find it because it was the perfect green. For Noble, I was proactive enough to get samples of brown for him which made it all easy and effortless.
SV: What was the correlation between suits for the groomsmen and that of the groom?
Mai: They were the same cut and the same fit, the groom and best man had the same colour and the groomsmen had a different colour but it was the same design of waist coats, the same fit and tailoring. The only difference between the groom and his groomsmen was the colour and fabric.
SV: Your greatest challenge as a groomswear designer?
Mai: There is hardly any, a suit is a suit, a tux is a tux. It is not like a bride and a dress, it is totally different and a lot easier. A guy already understands his body and the idea is to make the suit tailored to fit which is as simple as it gets.
SV: Do you also pick the shirts for the guys?
Mai: We do not make the shirts, bit we try to advise you on what to get. Initially we wanted to do a blue shirt, thankfully we did not it would have been too many colours. We settled for a crisp white shirt, Noble got a white shirt with a collar hold so we can insert a pin through the neck which was an important thing for him.
SV: What are three outlook staples every man should have on his wedding day?
Mai: It depends on what you want to wear on your wedding but irrespective, you should have a white shirt, a pack of handkerchiefs as well, because you will sweat, every other thing is dependent on what you wear.
Free advice, if you are dressed up on your wedding and you look like you are going to a job in a bank, you have failed. It is a ceremony, make it a point of duty to look very different from what you usually look like, in a good way.
SV: Is it important for men to also get that surprised look from their brides when she sees him standing at the alter?
Mai: It is almost predictable what a man is going to wear to be honest, but men are also factoring that expectation as well. You can still do things that will get the gasp when your bride sees you standing at the alter.
Thank You Mai!