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Five fashion lessons from the late Orie Rogo Manduli


We all hope that the day the curtains close on this chapter of our earthly lives, we would have lived and lived well. Well enough to be remembered, to be mourned, to be missed.

Some pray for a pompous sendoff while others simply hope that the few who had loved them would gather around in silent prayer, holding hands within muffled cries never ready to say their goodbyes.

The recent death of fashion icon, feminist voice and political disruptor Orie Rogo Manduli has been felt from the corners of her hometown in Maseno to the very steps of State House where the President remembered her as a bold leader, mentor and champion for women empowerment.

Manduli was many things; a true pioneer and trail blazer. But her most defining characteristic was her ability to command a room through her fashion looks. Whether it was a political rally or a TV interview, it was certain that she would turn necks and send tongues wagging.

Today we celebrate her life, well lived while drawing lessons from her stylish displays.

More is better

Her larger-than-life personality fit her larger-than-life sense of fashion perfectly. She was a force of nature, one to be reckoned with.

She would piece the most elaborate head gears with large sunglasses, intricately printed voluminous Kitenge dresses, layered jewellery; occasionally draping fabric over her shoulder to match her outfit. She proved that the phrase ‘less is more’ was not in her vocabulary. Oh My! How she did it flawlessly!

Accessories are key

Manduli is the template for the rich auntie aesthetic that many are striving for today. She must have owned the most enviable chest of accessories.

Her necklaces would drape over her dresses and her bangles and rings were statement pieces. She would rarely make a debut without her framed designer sunglasses, her ears were adorned by pearls on a regular basis teaching us that outfits are incomplete without accessories.

Authenticity is invaluable

The late icon had an undeniable sense of identity. Her entire presence was heard, seen and felt. She was her own woman, before she was anything for anyone else, a politician, a mother, a wife, she was everything for herself first.

This showed in her outfits. They mirrored her confidence, flamboyance and authenticity as an African woman.

She often wore dresses made from the Kitenge fabric, which is a custom African fabric showing us the power in our heritage and the pride we should exhibit while wearing authentic, African clothing.

Colour co-ordination is the ultimate style secret

Manduli’s outfits were carefully thought out. She complemented the colours on her dresses to her head gear. If she was wearing a blue dress, she would complement it with a blue head gear.

If it was a brown dress, you could be certain that her head gear would be brown teaching us that complementing features added a cohesive element to our outfits, making them automatically stylish.

Fashion is about the surprise element

To truly make a statement, you have to stand out. Manduli’s impressive selection of head gears was the surprise to all her outfits.

They defined her style expression and added pomp and elegance to her dresses. They are what we remember about her famous looks and surely, what will we miss the most.

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