We caught up with Sai Sankoh, the impeccably styled Dallas-based designer, entrepreneur and founder of Luxurycheckout.com. As a native of Sierra Leone, Sankoh’s work is inspired by her homeland, her environment and the people who surround her. Self-described as a curious person, she has a love for learning about God, family and friends—and fashion, of course. –Darsla Rules
How would you describe your personal style, and what inspires your fashion choices?
My personal style can be described as elegant yet sexy. I love being
feminine and highlighting my curves, but at the same time, I find it really mysterious when you don’t expose everything. I collect unique pieces. I love the cut of vintage [Thierry] Mugler suits, and I probably have a dozen of those. I also love Old Hollywood style. Mae West is one of my favorites; she was over the top and just so confident and glamorous. Oversized fox stoles, voluminous dresses and almost anything with ostrich feathers is usually a “yes” in my book.
You were a luxury fashion consultant, and we love the blog. What prompted you to transition into creating your own fashion platform?
I love traveling to exotic places such as Bali, Portugal and Ghana. I venture to such places when I need to get away and crave relaxation, but I also love to look stylishly relaxed when in my zen. This appealed to some people, and gradually I started garnering more interest in my travels and personal style—that’s how I entered the world of blogging.
Tell us about Luxury Checkout and Sai Sankoh and how they came about.
Luxury Checkout is an aggregate store that integrates products from some of my favorite online stores onto one large platform. It actually happened by chance. I was writing a review about vintage Hermés bags on Moda Operandi, and I had just found out about Skim Links, a website, which automatically converts links with affiliated stores for commission. I woke up to someone buying three Hermés bags, and I was stunned about how much I had made in a day. Immediately, I thought, what if I had hundreds of thousands of products instead of only 10 on my blog? Since then, I partnered up with a fantastic team, and we are really excited to see what the future holds.
Sai Sankoh is my new baby, and I am so passionate about it. It came about after realizing there was a niche for a sophisticated, glamorous yet comfortable lifestyle brand that would make you feel like the beach or a resort is your own personal runway. I’ve always had fun reconstructing vintage pieces, so I started designing my own gowns for special events. I started working on my first collection in the summer of 2016 and had my launch in November 2018. I’m very grateful for the response so far, but most importantly, it just makes me so happy seeing women looking beautiful and confident in my pieces.
What do you look for when choosing pieces for your namesake Sai Sankoh collection?
When creating styles and custom prints for this collection, I was greatly inspired by my African heritage. I am from a small but very beautiful country in West Africa called Sierra Leone, which boasts of lush rain forests, colorful architecture with picturesque and inviting landscapes. I drew inspiration from hot African summer days, where you have a lot of birds chirping, butterflies, all surrounded by a bright and colorful marketplace.
My inspiration of that can be seen in my prints and in my advertising campaign that was shot in Havana. A lot of people would be surprised to learn that Cuba has a lot of Africans, a fact that the media has tried to hide. The country consists mainly of Africans and Spaniards, and visiting Cuba felt a lot like coming back to my homeland. I recently saw a documentary that traced a group of Cubans’ heritage all the way back to Sierra Leone, so all in all, Cuba was the perfect destination for my second collection. My second collection is titled Lusting Havana, which was shot in Havana, Cuba.
What are five pieces you feel are essential for a woman’s closet?
A classic black Chanel [bag], a pair of Louboutin Pigalles 120MM, a crisp white button-down shirt, well-fitted tapered pants and an elegant and flattering white pencil dress.
Describe your favorite go-to casual outfit.
My goddess, kaftans. They are very light, comfortable and easy to wear. Slide on a pair of sandals or flats and pile on tons of jewelry, and it’s casual but still elegant.
Who are three people you view as style icons?
Rihanna, a.k.a. the Queen of the Met Gala, is one of my favorites because of her confidence. She can pull off any look and isn’t afraid to take fashion risks. Daphne Guinness because of her edge, and Mae West just gives me Old Hollywood glamour.
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