Do You Remember How Geles Were Back In The Day?

Picture this. You are at a wedding reception, taking in the ambience in the gilded hall of a wedding reception. Well-attired, young women drift about in blinged, conspicuous geles in a myriad of textures and colours. The mass conformity of the gele styles is disorienting: the preferencing of the infinity pleats, a style that is the avatar of the modern gele craft.

Stephanie Coker-Aderinokun wearing the infinity pleat gele at her wedding. Photo: Wedding Digest Naija







Bridal party. Photo: Emmanuel Blog’s TV/ Pinterest

What happened to fashion being a medium for individual style and expression? Since pre-colonial times, the gele has been an important accessory in the traditional wardrobe of Yoruba women, worn with the iro and buba.

Old school gele styles. Photo: Insidify Discovery
Photo: Misykona

Then, the artistically intricate gele styles conveyed language. Women with sass who wanted to show rivals bothered them not would declare that they were wearing “Gele ma wo’be” (meaning “don’t look there” or “don’t mind them”). Old framed pictures of my late grandmother have her in the “k’elenu so’nu,” which translates to “be careful with what you say with your mouth.” There is also the “Koju sóko” (meaning “face your husband”), to name a few in Yoruba.

Different gele styles. Photo: Racked
Expressive gele. Photo: Wikipedia

Now, the gentrification of the gele has phased out that language, that individuality, amplified by social media and feverish YouTube tutorial videos. A whole, thriving industry has emerged, huge and bombastic — a prospering facet of our fashion landscape in sync with the dizzying frequency of owambes and occasions of all sorts. This might be taking it too far, but why should a woman pay to have her gele done for an occasion only to look like a copy of the next woman at the venue?

Infinity pleat gele. Photo: Ritspoke Blog
Temi ‘JTO’ Otedola in two-toned butterfly a gele. Photo: AccelerateTv

Granted, the gele has evolved to incorporate a handful of styles, especially the rose-shaped style. But there’s something almost mournful about not seeing that nuance associated with old-era gele craft. Amongst the modern styles, the infinity pleats have gained a cultural ubiquity over the years. The pleats, fanning out on the wearer’s head, are also achieved with fabrics like ankara or aso-oke.

Tying gele. Photo: Misykona.
Toju Foyeh wearing a rose gele. Photo: Obi Somto Photography / Complete Fashion

There are plentiful videos online teaching one how to construct the infinity pleats and more. But no one is preserving or rekindling the gele as a tribute to individuality or cultural commentary. More to the point, this has subsumed the inclination to be innovative with the gele because, after all, there’s a ready template to choose from.

Toju Foyeh wearing a rose gele. Photo: Instagram

Originally from Guardian Life.


Blogger, Writer and Photographer per excellence.

7 thoughts on “Do You Remember How Geles Were Back In The Day?

  • December 23, 2019 at 9:52 am

    It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  • December 31, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  • January 1, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I¦ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my website 🙂

  • January 3, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Thank you for any other informative blog. The place else may I am getting that kind of information written in such a perfect means? I’ve a mission that I’m just now running on, and I have been at the glance out for such info.

  • January 3, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    You made some first rate factors there. I appeared on the web for the difficulty and located most individuals will go along with together with your website.

  • January 9, 2020 at 4:06 am

    You have noted very interesting details! ps decent web site. “Choose your friends carefully. Your enemies will choose you.” by Yassir Arafat.

  • January 12, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    naturally like your website but you need to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very troublesome to inform the truth however I’ll definitely come back again.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *