Ashley Okoli Defines Lagos’s Coolest Subculture

The moniker alté can be credited to the music group DRB LasGidi, who first used it to describe their sound and style in a song in 2014. The early days of the subculture were marked by artists like Santi, Odunsi (The Engine), BOJ, and Lady Donli — all young people who were not afraid to sound different and look different. While alté started out first as a sound, it quickly evolved to also have a look. The alté fashion took inspiration from the grunge movement, mixed it with gothic elements, and wrapped it in Y2K fashion. The style stars of the moment recreated looks from ’90s Nigerian movies with a modern spin. But to dress alté wasn’t formulaic. It was intuitive, and Okoli has that intuition. Not only has Okoli directed music videos like “Raw Dinner” by Cruel Santino, “Comfortable” by Nonso Amadi, “Corner” by Lady Donli and styled covers for magazines like Native, but she has also become one of the most well-known alté figures.

“I grew up in Ojo, Lagos, for the most part,” Okoli tells Vogue. “It was not exactly the best neighborhood, and I grew up with little to no knowledge of what existed beyond my average lifestyle and upbringing.” From a young age, she enjoyed fashion and thrift shopping with her mother. “We would pick anything we felt we could turn into a full look, and we would often successfully do so. In my early teens, we finally got cable. I would watch a lot of MTV and STYLE TV and was fascinated by fashion. “

Okoli began sharing her outfits of the day on Instagram in 2016. She quickly garnered a following for her grungy, gothic style, which stood out against the more conservative fashion dominant in Nigeria. “My sense of style is almost impossible to pin down,” she says. “I’m a risk-taker when it comes to clothes, I could literally rock anything and look good, so my personal style really depends on my mood as well as the season.”

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