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Fashion Throwback Thursdays: moving from Nairobi, settling in England

31 Dec 2015

For this week’s Fashion Throwback Thursday, Isha shares with us some old photos of her family after they moved to England from Nairobi, and comments on their fashion choices.

My mum’s side of the family came over from Nairobi in the 60s and eventually settled in Bedford. These are just a few pictures my mum had stashed away, showing her and her cousins growing up together in the 70s and 80s, through to the 90s when she had me. 


1965: My grandparents enjoying the English weather in a London park – a change from Nairobi. It must have been warm, as my grams is wearing a short-sleeved, but still modest, sari. Could that neckline be any higher? Her ensemble is topped off with chura – those red and white bangles – which show that she’s newly married. My grandad sticks to a classic look with an East African style turban.


Late 1960s: Chanai aunty, my grams’ sister, chilling at the family home in Nairobi, colour co-ordinating with the flowers.


1974/5: My grams (right) and her sister Nimi (left) participating in what my mum says was the craze back then: photo shoots in studios. Nimi is clearly happy to experiment more, with wedges and a checked blazer. Grams is as modest as always.


1976/77: (Left to right) Rani aunty, my grams and Nimi aunty posing together in the celebrations after Nimi’s wedding in Bedford. My aunties are in colourful saris whereas my grams opts for a patterned, flared trouser suit – 70s fashion Indian style!


1977: Poli, my mum, looking after her younger cousins. My mum seems to be channelling a Victorian inspired look whereas the kids look adorable with their hair in ribbons – why was that a trend that died?


1979: Here is my mum and some of her cousins at a family gathering, if you couldn’t tell from the samosas! I’m not sure who came up with that hairstyle but my mum also used that on me (those pictures will remain hidden…) They’re wearing homemade maxi dresses, though I’m not sure who made them.  


1980: My mum and her cousin Sati who is sporting a shell jacket, which was a big trend back then. Mum is still in those hair ribbons.


1983: This was another picture taken in a studio, featuring my uncle, grams, mum and aunty Neetu who is the small child dressed in a police officer’s outfit. My grams bought over the costume from India – we’re not sure why Neetu is dressed like that but she looks adorable, especially with her bindi. My mum is keeping it simple, accessorising her black and white outfit with a bindi and a string of pearls, whereas my grams has a gold khanda necklace hidden under her scarf if you look carefully.


1983/4: My aunty Neetu and my mum walking through Bedford Park. Neetu is actually missing her hat which my mum stole from her for this photo, but the white hat matches the floral print of her suit.


1986: My mum the poser. I actually think this is a really cute outfit and had to ask my mum what the occasion was for wearing it. My mum said it was for a dress-up day and that she didn’t remember ever wearing this suit out. At least she was photographed in it – definitely one of her better outfits!



1992: This was taken after my mum returned from India and was now married. You can tell she’s married from the fact she’s wearing a lot more makeup, and a huge red bindi, along with her chura. And the fact she’s basically all in red: red lipstick, bindi and clothes. See the finished project below:

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1994: My dad and my mum on a boat trip in Hunstanton, Norfolk. When I saw this picture, the first thing I noticed was the shirt (very adventurous for my dad) and my mum’s hair accessories. According to my mum, dad never wore that shirt again!


1998: Here I am, looking adorable as ever in what was mine and mum’s favourite outfit for me. Blue is definitely my colour. Shout out to my mum for dressing me so adorably.