“My desire was to create poetic lingerie that versed our stories and danced with our senses. Creations that you would fall in love with again & again. That told stories, or evoked moods, reminders of far off exotic places or a welcoming space in time ~ wherever home is to you ~ special moments of pure love. This is what I want to evoke in my collections….”
Some of you may recall Ihuoma from when I shared their debut collection on my Instagram
back in 2020! NIN Luxury Lingerie is their new stockist in the Netherlands and worldwide (with -21% tax refunds) via speedy international post.
Ihuoma is a mother (Annabelle) and daughter (A’isha) team from the UK. Aimed at the woman of colour, but not exclusive to her, Ihuoma seeks to assist women in connecting with their multi-layered selves (sensual, divine feminine, goddess).
Valuing slow fashion and the planet, Ihuoma creates lingerie they want you to wear time and time again. To create memories in and care for throughout your life. Small-scale production happens locally in the UK and materials are sourced from Europe. Bespoke embroidered tulle from France, featuring their homage to the Egyptian Ankh. I had a voracious interest in Egyptology when I was younger, so this has always caught my eye.
Some other features of this lingerie are; the ability to mix and match across the two collections. Silk-bound seams. Gold-plated hardware, including a 22k plated Cowrie shell charm. Cowrie shells have a prestigious and intriguing lengthy history in Africa. The shells were used as currency long before the first coin appeared. In addition, Cowries were associated with prosperity, fertility, and the feminine (the Cowrie’s eye can look similar to a vagina, and the curved back is reminiscent of a pregnant woman’s belly). With the upsurge of designers connecting with and being inspired by their Black heritage, it is lovely to see that Cowrie shells have been featured more frequently in fashion in the past several years.
“I wanted to design unique embroidery that spoke to our spirit, like love letters from our ancestors - empowering us with wisdom, grace, love.”
I caught up with Annabelle recently, who was kind enough to answer a couple of questions;
What is your and A’isha’s design process like?
“My design process is really quite multifaceted. I’m inspired by my Nigerian/ African philosophy and spirituality as well as African American modes of cultural expression. So, tapping into those energies and harnessing those ancestral codes is so important to me when designing. I'm driven and led by that energy that calls me & once clear in my mind I do some very rough drawings (I'm not an artist) all the while discussing those ideas and concepts with my daughter, Aisha, who produces the initial illustrations for our unique embroidery ~ these are all drawn using paint or coloured pencils and these illustrations are translated digitally by our other wonderful team member Bok, who is an amazing illustrator and designer. Once the embroidery is finalised, this is where the fun begins and we really allow our imaginations to run free in terms of concepts for each garment; playing with different silk swatches, colour ways, trims and components etc, and from this, we filter our ideas further when we start sampling at our atelier.
The sampling process is the most intricate & challenging as we often go through a number of variations before we finalise the collection and sometimes, I have to reign in my ideas, as the dream doesn't always translate to reality. I’m not technical, so at this stage have to rely on the expertise of my team who are incredible, but I hope to become more proficient on the technical side of creating lingerie . However, more often than not we are able to create our first ideas. But we also have to let go of others that don’t quite 'sit' with our message for the collection.
However, I find this part of the journey of creating a collection magical and I’m like a kid, excited to see our first samples - even if we consequently have to adapt the designs, but it’s always a wonderful experience to see how one’s ideas, once a dream, manifest before your eyes as an exquisite finished design and collection.”
Of your Divine Feminine and Goddess Mawu Copper collections, which would be your favourite piece and why?
“The Divine Feminine collection
is the first collection I designed with my daughter and celebrates our now iconic Ankh embroidery. The Egyptian Ankh is a powerful symbol within Black Culture that really resonates with me; symbolising vivacious, loving energy, it's the embodiment of feminine & masculine energy - The key of Life! So, it really has a special place in my heart and I'm passionate about all the designs, because I want the woman that wears Divine Feminine to see and feel like a modern-day Goddess.
That being said, I’d say the Divine Feminine Embroidery Balconette
and matching Suspender
is such a stunning silhouette and this combination has been a bestseller for us, & has been picked up by press and the odd celebrity, so is very much a favourite. The Balconette shows off the Ankh embroidery and flatters every breast shape. Perfect if you're looking for a little daytime 'je ne said quoi', that's for you only, or team with the matching Suspender and Thong for when you want to harness your Goddess power for naughty rendezvous.
Copper Collection is also a special collection for me, because it was designed with A'isha's skin tone in mind. My favourite piece is the Longline Bralette which she designed herself. A'isha loves and mostly wears bralettes and wanted to create a bra that she could feel comfortable wearing daily but made her feel fabulous. But also, a bralette that could be worn as outerwear, for a festival with shorts or jeans and heels to dinner and a club. It’s really a fabulous multifunctional piece.”
Ihuoma’s unique lingerie is currently available at NIN Luxury Lingerie for delivery worldwide.
is a Lingerie Blogger from New Zealand. She enjoys a good cup of tea, long walks on the beach, and rolling around on her large hoard of lingerie like a silk-obsessed Smaug.