Christmas Shopping – Lagos Style Part 2


We continue our foray into the one-stop Christmas shopping experiences to be had in Lagos. Today belongs to the original luxury emporium, Temple Muse. Many, many, years ago when the notion of a retailer that had your shopping needs and wasn’t a six hour flight away felt as likely as a sighting of a pink unicorn. When anyone, who for the most part was domicile in Lagos would feel their heart race when they found themselves outside Harvey Nichols in London, Printemps in Paris, Barneys in New York or La Rinascente in Milan, the Wadhwani brothers decided to come to Lagos’ retail rescue. They knew a thing or two about luxury; Avi was a head buyer at fashion Mecca Selfridges and Kabir had looked after the PR and Advertising needs for some of the world’s leading brands. But more importantly, they were also Nigerian born and bred, understood the intricacies of the market and the high expectations of a city that invented the concept of ‘dressing and oppressing’.


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Eight years and two location moves later, Temple Muse continues to provide a winning combination of established international brands with vanguard and emerging talents from across Africa. They also have a line in hosting some of the city’s most epic parties, offering a hamper service that gives Fortnum’s a genuine run for its money and dealing in contemporary art via their regular in-house gallery-style shows. If you are looking for stocking fillers, decorations and stationery, they also have a Christmas Shop where you can purchase all of your seasonal treats too! But what of the goods within? Can they truly cut the mustard? At MO, we agree it’s a hearty yes and yes!





GIFTS UNDER N30,000 (they do exist and they are fabulous!)




Add a splash of Afrocentric sophistication with these playing cards, whether it’s a family friendly game of Uno or an only-for-the-grown-ups—and-yes-they-we-are=playing-for=real-money game of Poker. Lost Wax is the brainchild of Nigerian artist Olutade Abidoye, who wanted to create playing cards that were aesthetically pleasing but had a cultural conscience. Each playing card features an illustration of an illustrious royal figure from the ancient Benin Kingdom from the 15th Century – 19th Century; so whilst you’re playing games you are learning something too!


The perfect bedtime companion for the little ones in your life or for someone who has more than a dollop of ‘Big Kid’ in them, the TM Teddy is more than a mascot – he is a fluffy, snuggly companion for all the family.


For the caffeine fiend in your life; behold, the perfect mug for a morning coffee. Designed by UK based It-Designer, fine artist and ceramicist Rory Dobner the illustration is bound to raise a chuckle and because only the finest bone china is used, the flavour of the drink therin will not be compromised.


GIFTS FOR UNDER N150,000 (let’s not fib, there are some people we love more than others)


Let there be no mistake, men also want in on the Balmain Army action. So whilst their female companions slip themselves into one of Olivier Rousteing’s statement fitted columns, their best-beloved’s can enjoy the simple sophistication afforded by this calfskin belt. Versatile enough to be rocked with a formal trouser or a slim-fit jean,  this piece allows one to channel celeb dressing with ease.


There are wines and there are wines and then in a special category all of its own are the wines of Bordeaux. Chateau Prieure Lichine started off as a priory for Benedictine Monks (trust us on this one, all the best booze is made by people of the cloth, see Dom Perignon Champagne if you don’t believe us), and has continued being a producer of fine wine. A case of this is guaranteed to get you invited for dinner at least once to sample a bottle.



Dinner Party 101 decrees that you haven’t hosted a true dinner party if there is no cheese course and this beauty from Michael Aram will score you style bonus points too. The stylish metal handles on each side are reminiscent of a fallen palm frond and the marble top is the perfect colour counterpoint for the ripe Brie, mature Stilton, Comte and Manchego, grapes casually scattered are an optional extra.



BLOW THE BUDGET GIFTS (for the ‘money is no object posse’, AKA Ogas-At-The-Top)



René Lalique founded the eponymous glassware company in 1888 and from that day til this this Lalique crystal has become a byword for luxury and artistry. From glasses to vases, sculpture to furniture, their pieces adorn the homes of royalty, Hollywood legends and now, someone you love this Christmas. This caviar dish is begging to have heaps of Sevruga (my personal favourite, forget all the noise made about Beluga) piled high. And perhaps because this is Lagos, try teaming it with mini-yam cylinders instead of the usual baked potato or blini?


Apparently, if you have to ask the price, then that is a pretty good indication that you cannot afford it. But let’s put it this way, in the land of Planet Fine Jewellery, it’s more the question of how much do you love her. This magnificent ruby necklace with diamond clasp is the kind of forever piece that is guaranteed to take the breath away. Worn with a simple black gown or to maximalist effect with traditional, and you won’t just be belle of the ball, but talk of the town.


To the all-important chill whilst they wrap moment. As said before, at MO, we are great believers in the whole Christmas Shopping experience being super stress-free with fun moments thrown in for you, the friendly, loving, super-generous giver. Temple Muse has a Champagne Bar, we know, very civilized, and as well as the obligatory fizz they are serving some seriously delish mulled wine, brewed to a top-secret family recipe too. You can also nibble (and inevitably order by the dozen) some of Mrs. Wadhwani’s legendary cupcakes and mince pies. Too good doesn’t even cover it for taste and pretty factor!
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Christmas Shopping – Lagos Style


There are LESS than two weeks to Christmas Day. If the thought of that brings you out in a cold sweat, fear not, there is one way to make Christmas shopping a lot less stressful. It’s called the one-hit=shop. I have always been a massive fan of this particular modus operandi. In my London living days depending on how bumper the year had been I would either be at one end of Sloane Street in Harvey Nichols (with a pit stop for mince pies at Harrods) OR the other end of the road at reliable and not break the bank worthy Peter Jones. Why almost die in a crush on Oxford Circus, or feel like you are lost in a maze of sensory overload AKA Westfield? Why do the click and drag but with none of the festive flavours online? Why indeed, people, when you can make your selections and have a glass of champagne and something light to eat while the in-house gift-wrap service does the rest for you? Welcome to the MO way of Christmas shopping, luxe, low-stress with some eating and drinking thrown in on the side!

Since I moved to Lagos my modus operandi have not changed that much and in a quest for the one hit shop I am delighted to announce the concept is alive and well and living in the form of two emporia – Temple Muse and Alara. In the spirit of giving both shops a fair crack at meeting your shopping needs I will present the best items in store to get your mitts on. To reduce the stress still further, we’ve divide the gifts according to wallet capabilities. Finally, we also took the time to sample what’s best to enjoy in store while all that wrapping and bagging is happening at the counter. It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it!



Can you remember a time when there was no Alara? Such has been its rapid rise in the retail space that many struggle to reconcile that this destination shop has been with us for less two years. Since it opened its doors in February 2015, columns have been written about the concept store founded by Reni Folawiyo, with an aim to being home to the best of African and Global Luxury brands. David Adjaye architecture, high fives from the international fives from the press aside, what we are loving is that you can sort out your Christmas shopping in one go, but your pockets will have to be relatively deep, or the recipient super-special. But then, it is the season of giving, so without further ado MO presents the best in store.

GIFTS UNDER N30,000 (whoever said considered prices equals minimal choice was fibbing)



Give a home a stylish twist with some gorgeous indigo placemats from ethical home ware brand, Madwa. Grass weaving is an ancient traditional craft in Swaziland, which sadly with the march of mechanization is dying out. However, Madwa aims to not only produce items in a sustainable manner but also benefit local communities too. Style points and a conversation starter all in one present!  Well it is the season of peace and good will to all men!




For the design conscious foodie in your life look no further than Aga Concepts. Aga means ‘useful object’ in the founder Olubunmi Adeyemi’s native Yoruba tongue, and with these beautifully crafted minimalist pieces he has created cooking utensils that are beautiful in their own right. Grinding crayfish and pepper for Okra Soup just got pimped!




For all the shoe-aholics in your life this is a must have! Assouline are the publishing house behind some of the most covetable coffee table books and this paean to shoes is no exception. Exquisite photographs, sketches and contributions from Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik are just the kind of late night reading and dreaming a fashion savvy footwear lover needs.


GIFTS FOR UNDER N150,000 (because sometimes you want to spend that little extra)




Lagos can be a stressful city, and nothing calms the nerves in quite the same way as a restorative cup of tea. Yswara is a South African based artisan tea company that sells a selection of rare blends from across the continent. Harnessing centuries old traditions and methods they have added a splash of modernity through their beautiful copper plated tea accessories. This gorgeous gift set includes an aromatherapy tea scented candle and a travel caddy.




For the old-school music lovers out there, the original and some say still best way to enjoy those favourite jams is on vinyl. This elegant Crosley turntable allows them to dig out all those 12 inch remixes and throw shapes like it’s the summer of ’95. And when not in use the turntable resembles an oh-so-serious briefcase…well, if you’re Minister of Enjoyment you have to keep the portfolio undercover!




Tom Dixon is an award winning multi-disciplinary designer. In fact his pieces have found their way into the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, MOMA in New York and the Pompidou Centre in Paris’ permanent collections, so if that isn’t ultimate design bragging rights, I don’t know what is! These scented candles add the modernist Dixon aesthetic to any home.



BLOW THE BUDGET GIFTS (for those who ‘Dollar Crisis’ is as alien as a holiday to Mars)





For the Sporty man about town, the Nixon Wristwatch is just the ticket. The California based accessories brand was birthed from the skater, surfer, too-cool-for-school scene, and continues to create pieces that marry utility with luxury. This being Lagos, the shine-shine Bobo in your life will love this gold coloured rendition – all the better for chilling on a boat or at the beach house.




When Han Chong founded Self-Portrait his mission was simple – create covetable pieces for the modern woman.  Purchase this for your lady love and she has a NYE dress that will shut down the party in the most casual lo-fi-luxe way. The cold shoulder black bandeau neckline detail toughens up the uber-prettiness of the two tier skirt and like many a show-stopper this dress is short and sexy! Rock with a chunky heel for fashion points of play safe with a seasonal sparkler of a stiletto heeled sandal.


As we said before, Christmas Shopping to be truly gratifying needs to be as enjoyable for the shopper as the gifts will be for those you have bought for. Alara, like any decent luxury emporia have got the while-you-wait eating and drinking options completely sorted. No need to pine for the 5th Floor in Harvey Nichols. Rose Bakery in Dover Street Market or Ladurée in Harrods. Noted restaurant and bar Nok By Alara is on the premises and you can either nibble on appertisers from their African haute cuisine menu or knock back some of their game-over cocktails whilst contemplating the reason for the season. Personal favourites for us at MO Towers are the Dre Beets and Ogogoro Collins Cocktails and the Crab Cakes with Shito Tartar Sauce.
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#Squadgoals, Sister-Friends and Frenemies: The Evolving Face Of Friendship



We took the picture at least half a dozen times: beyond the basic requirement of ensuring everyone was in frame, we also considered light, composition and angles. The power pieces worn had to be shown at their optimum and the emoji-praise inducing accessories had to be visible (all the better for the repost/tag the designer action that would follow). It goes without saying that everyone had to be presenting their slimmest, tallest, self (drop a shoulder, one foot slightly forward, we know the drill) and the facial expressions had to be casual-but-still-sensational, either that or funny-ironic-but-fine-sha. Once posted, the likes and comments would ensue, and that picture with all its connotations of beauty, glamour and style would be the digital imprint left behind of the evening. According to the picture: the #squad was #slaying, #blessed and hanging with #sisterfriends. But were we friends in the old-school sense of the word? Or even to bring it more new school – was this an ensemble of ride-or-die crew or a carefully curated #squad, Taylor Swift styles, that was merely doing for the ‘gram, retweets and social media upscaling?

At MO, whilst we don’t front about the way in which the exterior moves us on so many levels; we have decided to explore a tricky question. Is friendship in crisis and was modern technology, social media in particular, to blame for it? As we have all become masters of online curation, have real life friendships changed because of the digital age’s expectations of perfection? Has the way we communicate: infinitely more via a screen, without the physical cues of body language, tone of voice and eye to eye contact to gauge the reception to our comments altered friendship? And is intimacy and trust something from a dim and distant past and we are now awash with frenemies in our friendship circle? I sent out a survey to males and females from 17 – 60 + and was both surprised, encouraged and challenged by the answers. In unpacking it all I hope to offer my own thesis of how friendship has changed and what if anything at all we should do about it. We still need love, no doubt about that one, but the digital age and its tools of the trade have definitely changed the way we conduct ourselves in our closest relationships.

Age and life experience did not seem to alter the need for friendship: one of my oldest respondents, talked of how her friends had witnessed so much of her life, that no major life event did not in some way feature them. As children were born and raised, they flitted between the friendship circle’s houses, calling everyone ‘Auntie’ and ‘Uncle’ regardless of whether they were actually related. Their group was, surprising to me, on WhatsApp and, they still brought it and then some, especially when it came to their aso’ebi wearing activities, particularly at their children’s weddings. Parties usually included them dancing in a circle to their favourite tracks for hours at a time, and believe it or not, they are in their 60s! At the other end of the scale, a respondent in her 30s simply stated: “I am blessed with authentic friendships and supportive friends.” Present on the most popular social media channels, the respondent talked at length about not being swayed by what she saw online “I’m very focused on character when it comes to friendship and not image.”  But in light of this primal need to not only be heard, but also to connect, the gaze of social media is ever present.

One of the great assumptions is that the dominance of social media has resulted in the end of friendship in real life. The responses I received illustrated it was more nuanced than that. Yes, social media was a behemoth, with the multiple and ever growing number of platforms we use to connect, but it was actually more of a tool to do what human beings have always done which is get closer to their existing circle: I see social media as a way to communicate and share stories and memories with already existing friends.” Shared by one of my younger respondents, this is completely at odds with the perception that the Post Millennial Generation principally sought validation from randoms on the internet. The same respondent had a surprisingly laissez-faire approach to posting and staying ‘relevant’ on various platforms: “I have never been in a situation where I have, for example, worried that if I do not tweet enough or share enough selfies that friends will start to drift away.” The self-=confidence exhibited was anomalous to other responses in this corresponding age group where constant updates and the accompanying FOMO feelings that friends’ posts put strains on friendships or made real-life meetings several shades of awkward, was ever present. The FOMO was only actually there, because you wish you had been in the moment captured on screen.

But back to all those perfectly polished images on our feeds. Are these people ‘real friends’? Is our image the main event of what we are seeing now and has it affected how we assess who we invest time in? Respondents by and large came down on not being only governed by what they saw on social media feeds; but looking good and assessing others in that locus repeatedly popped up. ”I think it’s always important in life to present the best version of yourself, the version of yourself that you are most proud of, in public and I guess by extension, on social media.” Fair enough, one could conclude, indeed another Post Millennial buttressed the point further: “I don’t like to appear uncool and always like to look well dressed.”  Their accepted focus on image did not seem to damage the profundity of their relationships, it anything it only enhanced what was already there. It also helps to have a certain level of confidence. Without revealing compromising their anonymity I can attest that in both instances, these individuals’ feeds have the winning combo of candor, irreverence and joie de vivre. One would look and definitely want to be their friend, or at least hang out, maybe at some secret party that they are clearly going to be invited to and you aren’t, lol!

However, as with anything there are losers in this game, one respondent mentioned, albeit sheepishly that:” Appearance on social media is too important, social media is everything today so it’s a major key…Looking rundown on Instagram or Twitter is never a win for me and the crew. I think if I am being honest with myself, I probably dropped friends for how they looked.” And before readers decide this kind of brutal thinking is for teens and twenty-somethings alone, one can see strains of it in older respondents: “Truth is, we are drawn to people that are similar to us and that probably creates an image or perception however superficial.”  Still another shared: ”…if I am being candid then I admit  it’s always nice to look good and I also like my friends looking good also,  but never to the extent where I think I can only be seen with certain friends or take photos with certain friends” And my favourite because I love the swag proclaimed therein:  “everyone wants to look good on social media…I do most times.”. Are these women close friends with each other? Absolutely. Probably sister-friends such is the extent of shared experiences, history and intimacy shared. But looking good has also become part of the equation. We all own it, we all enjoy it and we are all participating in it. And for those who are afraid of the possibility of a swipe left situation, or finding yourself perennial cropped from the snap?  I would subscribe to the great leveler called good light, failing that the Reyes filter on IG (it softens everything that needs to be softened) and if still it’s a bust, then lots of pictures of your accessories…if they are fabulous enough you will prevail!

But jest aside, perhaps the greatest challenge to friendships are the old nutshells of foundational shifts: life stage changes were constantly mentioned as reasons for things going awry; with location moves, marriage and children being the biggest culprits for friendship altering. One married respondent with children put the situation in sharp focus: It definitely has [changed things] …That is one of my biggest issues, I spent quite a lot of time travelling making friends in different walks of life …. they have moved on [and] we grew apart. It takes a very special friendship to be able to sustain distance, developments and challenges.” Sharing a similar narrative but from the perspective of the single friend another shared: “If you’ve both been single and if that has been your vibe…it does change things and you have to work through with it.” We are conditioned to gravitate to people where we have common experiences, and whilst many are cool with the juggle others want things easier as another remarked: “For me it is easier to mix with friends in the same life stage…It makes things less complicated…And also gives us ‘content’ for our friendship.” It would seem that by and large the friendship rose or fell on the efforts made to plough through the divergences in life milestones. In some instances, social media was the vehicle that created immediacy in terms of communication; but equally it could add fuel to the friendship-in-crisis-fire, as images depicting how far away you now were, in terms of activities and goals was made visually apparent.

As with romantic love, the formation of friendships can be intense. One boozy conversation at a house-party can morph into frequent messaging, turbo sharing and whenever you do meet face-to-face, lengthy all day hangs. It is glorious, but just like the first flush of romance, there needs to be some more sedate elements in the mix for sustainability’s sake. The two peas in a pod, sister from another mother flow can be amazing; one respondent spoke of thinking her oldest friend was an actual relative, but it can also bring with it challenges. It becomes easier to assess one another in relation to oneself, after all you are spending so much time with one another, and as anyone who has played the “compare and despair” game will attest, misery follows: “we have been through a lot…. but we used to rile each other up….there was a lot of competition but now we’re a lot more supportive…not seeing each other all the time has made a difference.” One of the greatest emotional challenges is managing and recalibrating a friendship, especially if it had a heady intoxicating beginning. This is when social media can be both a friend and foe. If you’re in the midst of a ‘rile-up season’ as the respondent so evocatively described, every communique will be seasoned with the piquant flavours of offence and combativeness. It can be hard to support one another if you are too busy point scoring, or seeking rationalised reason for shifts, where you of course are the exonerated party. It takes courage to attempt to move forward, or to face the crisis head on. Also frightening and an aider and abettor of friendship rot is how easily social media has allowed for such dormant relationships to ‘live on’ even if in real life you long checked out of meaningful engagement. You can ‘like’ posts, respond with emojis and pose for the occasional group selfie and no one will be any the wiser, after all it isn’t as if you clicked unfollow, Right?

The other fly in the ointment in modern friendships is the notion of the frenemy. We all know one; you’re on good terms on paper, but there is something off in their behaviour; a bit too much schadenfreude when things go tits up for you, although often peppered with those dastardly emojis again. A double sad face for a loss in the family/job and/or lover? No, I don’t think it cuts it either. The social anxiety caused by social media is amplified because we don’t have the visual and aural cues of interaction in real-life: respondents across the full spectrum of ages talked to this point: “sometimes I question the friendship relationship when some of my close friends act in a certain way.” Another respondent added rather potently in capitals: “I do feel connected and supported by (SOME) of my friends.” Still another stated: ”[Re] friends who are not my real friends – I try not to but I suffer from chronic paranoia plus a few experiences life has thrown my way. ” It seems that the frenemy is not going away anytime soon. But how does one tackle it? Quite simply by spending a little more time hanging out in  the realms of face  to face reality. It is harder to maintain BS looking someone in the eye, and all those weird conflicting messages they make, become clear as crystal. If you have been guilty of having ”collected” some ”strategic” pals along the way, who  if you are brutally honest, you don’t particularly like, perhaps it is time to do the right thing and let them go? We all lead increasingly busy lives and it is only right and fair that the little leisure time one does have is shared in emotionally and spiritually edifying encounters, rather than ones that feel endemically booby-trapped.

So, what can one conclude from all these findings, granted from a relatively small sample group but one that cut across gender, age, race and background? Well first the good news, friendship is alive and well. All the respondents spoke to that; “A wedding ceremony…without sexuality” being the most poetic and intimate description of what friendship can feel like. However, one cannot ignore the consequences, some extremely adverse that social media has had on trust, intimacy and feelings of belonging. The anxiety and internal conflict experienced can be tricky to navigate: “…I sometimes get anxious that people never really know one another and sometimes that feels lonely.” Though we are connected there are still so many unsaid ‘saids’ and though there are infinite ways to connect the isolation when it comes can feel all the more acute for it. We have become masters of camouflage-by-text-characters in our messages and those that dare to raise a head above the parapet are labelled weirdos.  Even when the response one has received has been largely positive the reasons and motivations behind the positivity can stifle: ” I think some people that know nothing about me get carried away by the lifestyle…or love the idea of me…they want to be friends with me just because of how they visualise me. ”  No one likes to be objectified obsessively and yet social media is the breeding ground of such objectification. Ultimately, social media should be seen for what it is: a communication tool that helps one get their message across, whatever it is, quicker. One respondent’s distillation of this truth  ” it’s not about being hot, it’s about being interesting and informative and savvy and cool and having a voice… ” couldn’t speak more poignantly to everyone I communicated with. The likes may come and go, we might inspire often ,and  alienate occasionally, but we will always have a primordial need to seek out communities where we have affinity, where we can bond and where we can feel the most basic and beautiful of human needs, love.
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