“I must admit, I am kind of tacky. I am kind of like a Vegas show girl,” Zandile Blay said during our interview, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Her penetrating beauty and intelligence can pull off anything from a burgundy mohair bolero to a college sweatshirt. To say that Zandile simply has great taste — see her Norma Kamali camouflage sleeping bag coat for reference — would not do her discerning good eye and integrity in everything she does justice.
Zandile comes from a long line of political journalists, particularly her father, who won a fellowship from Harvard for his nationwide protest against the Ghanaian regime, where Zandile was born. As a thinking-person’s fashion writer, Zandile echoes the philosophical bent of her past in her choice of subjects that she writes about. Like this site, she is less fascinated by the peacock at an event than what one chooses to wear when they are not aware of what they are doing and what that communicates about the person. Some of what intrigues her most are the priest accused of pedophilia who began wearing white robes before his congregation and the Harlem real estate broker who owns four thousand pieces of vintage clothing but loves the non-label pieces the most in honor of the unsung heroes who made them. “Writing is like giving birth… you have to be in love with someone to interview them,” Zandile feels.
Aside from her pearly whites and thriving relationship with American Apparel, the most inspiring aspect of Zandile is her stance on the virtues of being unentitled. With eleven cousins living in one room in her native country and a mother who sacrificed her own journalism career so that her daughters could realize their dreams in the US of A, Zandile feels that being unentitled has given her such a sense of purpose that on days when she’s feeling completely down and out, “it’s like a battery pack.” Zandile’s mother, of whom she says, “selflessness, selflessness, selflessness,” also shows up with flowers and money whenever she sees a bummed out tweet from her daughter.
Zandile considers her younger sister Zeba to be her best friend and quiet support system. I too am grateful for her — it was Zeba who told her older sister that if she did the SLU shoot, it would be the coolest thing that her big sister has ever done (flattering, but not true.) Just to prove that coolness runs in the family, for Christmas Zeba gave her sister back the coveted Harvard sweatshirt bought on the occasion of their first arrival in America. Just as she falls for the people she writes about, we are head over heels for Zandile, and not just for her gold wedges.
Category: Ghanaians Abroad