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Francesca Nelo is Buckhead’s newest rising fashion star.

Francesca Nelo (right)
Francesca Nelo (right)

Francesca Nelo came from humble beginnings and fashion was not a big part of her local community in Nigeria. For her, fashion was an outlet and the only way she knew how to express herself artistically.

“I began sketching fashion designs in my home country before I knew what Vogue magazine was,” says Nelo, Buckhead resident and owner of fashion brand Cesca Nelo. “I had curated a 100-page sketchbook with my own custom designs at the age of 12.”

At 14, she and her family moved to the United States, and her initial goal was to become an attorney. But things changed quickly while she was studying at Georgia State University. Nelo began wardrobe styling as a hobby and rediscovered her childhood love for fashion.

“While attending GSU, I dressed like it was Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week,” Nelo says of her haute couture-inspired ensembles that included anything with ruffles and bright colors, recreations of different runway looks by Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, Oscar de la Renta and Alexander Wang.

Instead of following a fashion track, though, Nelo graduated with a degree in International Relations. “I love helping others, and I have always had great interest in the work of the United Nations. I volunteer my time with local organizations like Open Hand Atlanta, helping people in my community. I plan on starting my own organization in the near future to help young entrepreneurs find resources to start their own businesses,” Nelo says. In 2010, she founded Style by Cesca, a fashion arts firm that produces fashion shows and specializes in wardrobe styling, personal shopping and coaching aspiring models. She still operates the firm today. Four years later, she launched Cesca Nelo and began creating women’s contemporary clothing designs that are currently sold online.

Confident, fearless women inspire Nelo’s designs that largely focus on sleek, structured dresses created to accentuate a woman’s best attributes. Her Spring/Summer collection will have dresses with more movement and color blocking. “Every woman deserves to feel confident because we can do it all. I am inspired by the people I meet and their styles; the colors I see when I go jogging; the shapes of the beautiful structures in my neighborhood and my community as a whole,” she says. “With a pair of heels and a fabulous dress, I feel like I can conquer the world.”

Some of her favorite places to view great fashion in the Buckhead area include The Shops Buckhead Atlanta. “Brands like Etro, Alice + Olivia, Helmut Lang and Theory opening stores in Buckhead are a sign of great things to come in our community,” Nelo says of the area’s retail growth.

What’s next for her in 2016? Nelo looks forward to launching a collection for men and opening her first store in Buckhead.



“With an off-the-shoulder dress/top, I recommend keeping the bottom of the outfit fitted and refraining from showing too much skin, so the focus is on the beautiful shoulder detail. This is actually a slimming technique I recommend to my clients with curves. My off-the-shoulder Vita dress in black and white with a bold Stephanie Bijoux necklace is a great example of how to wear this look.”


“Lightweight denim is my go-to look for effortless style. White, straight-leg pants (I recommend jeans), a light denim shirt, a pair of boldly colored pumps and an F&W style handbag is my complete resort look. A look like this will have you feeling as fabulous as Victoria Beckham. It is a perfect outfit for a date (especially the first).”


“The paperbag-waist look [a high waistline where the belt or cinching is placed below some fabric at the top] was all over the spring/summer 2016 runway. I recommend a fitted top with this look, otherwise you might appear bigger than your actual size. Think bigger at the bottom, smaller at the top.”

STORY: Laura Carson Miller

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