For promising Nigerian womenswear brand Fruché, women should be unstoppable, they should be able to aspire to whatsoever professional or social height they desire without having to give up their femininity. Over the phone, we had an intellectually charged conversation discussing the idea behind their ‘Venusians,’ collection which celebrates women who reach for the stars, beyond societal limitations and expectations. The collection reimagines a world dominated by relentlessly ambitious women who are politically charged, issues-driven and thought leaders.
(A Nasty Boy): Can you please tell us the inspiration behind your Venusians collection?
(Frank Aghuno): The idea of naming the collection Venusians came from me just wanting to create something that was solely to inspire women and young girls. A place they could call their own, a place where women are not treated as though they’re not equals…but as strong, powerful confident women. “Venusians” comes from John Gray’s ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ and many science fiction writers who have imagined what life on Venus might be like. We imagine a world dominated by women which, in all honesty, isn’t far-fetched. We were very much inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and this quote from the author: “Gender, as it functions today, is a grave injustice. I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world,” This statement was one of my strongest sources of inspiration. Fruché is trying to communicate the idea of a new generation of African women: Goal-getters, leaders, powerhouses that will and are already shaping the future of Africa.
(ANB): Beautiful, and I liked every bit of the video, it was empowering just seeing women in beautiful dresses, in all colours; yellow, blue, etcetera, just really, really feminine dresses that flatter them while they were surrounded by rockets and spaceships, was this a conscious decision?
(F.A.): Thanks a lot! We noticed that people in the past have painted feminism as masculine or ugly, which is such a wrong notion. We wanted to portray the girls as very feminine and happy, carefree individuals.
(ANB): Did you ever think of it? Considering especially, how women in these careers are expected to look a certain way, otherwise, they’ll be disrespected, yet, a young Nigerian, sent them to space in such pretty dresses?
(F.A.): The quote “Rape came before mini skirts” came to mind several times while creating this collection. The idea that people would brutally rape girls and women of any age because of the clothes they wear and how they wear them is absolutely repulsive. Some of the sketches were actually done in anger [especially] with the constant reminders of what African girls have to grow up experiencing. The cutouts, plunging necklines, slits and mini lengths are all deliberate actions to make a statement. Let women live! Let them live their best lives how they want, by wearing anything they want. We also incorporated pinstripes and also an Aso-oke power-suit which usually signifies authority in a professional and political environment traditionally dominated by men.
(ANB): Amazing! What has been the response to the collection from stores and the women who wear your brand every day?
(F.A.): A lot of women absolutely love the collection. Most women have been buying our ‘Feminist as fuck’ tees since it debuted. Despite a few comments like “you think women want to wear feminist as fuck” and ‘It seems like an angry collection’ – well it is. Stores have also loved the pieces. We’re currently stocking a few at Shop Meidei and new stockists are coming up soon.
(ANB): I like how you admit that it’s an angry collection. It’s interesting how people use ‘anger’ to discredit and dismiss people’s arguments and points of view. Black women used to be considered only angry and, as a result, people dismissed them because they were uncomfortable with their assertiveness and so they started the anger thing. Unfortunately, I see that happening now with feminists, people just want to link the two together, almost like feminism equals anger, but no, it doesn’t!
(F.A.): My point exactly! I hope that one day we can all open our minds and hearts to the things women face and say there needs to be change. Till then we feminists will keep being ‘angry’ and unapologetic about it.
(ANB): The video looks really lovely, we saw a hand-painted back drop with spaceships and rockets and the models raising their hands in a tightly clenched fist, how does this tie into the collection story.
(F.A.): The hand-painted backdrop was done by Fred Aghuno of Dricky stickman. We love his aesthetic. The brand sat down to explain the collection to him and he gave us his own depiction of Venus. It incorporated the idea of female professionals, in this case astronauts, and also the feminine side with the lipstick building because feminists can be feminine too (laughs). Also, the spaceships and rockets just come from, the idea of the set being Venus.
(ANB): Wonderful, I was just getting to that! The people you worked/collaborated with!
(F.A.): We worked with the amazing Daniel Obasi on this video and he basically brought the whole thing to life. It was, again, the idea of these carefree girls living their best lives, we see them strutting and posing
At some point, they lift their clenched fist as a symbol of feminism and towards the end you see them playing a traditional Nigerian game called ‘tinko’ which is [usually] played by [young] girls.
(ANB): Do you ever feel like a time will come when boys too could wear your pieces, and do you ever imagine yourself in them?
(F.A.): Yes, definitely! With how the society is changing and hopefully people being more accepting of otherness, I think, in no time we’ll see more men wearing Fruché pieces.
(ANB):How would that make you feel?
(F.A.): It’ll definitely be a defining moment for the brand and hopefully society as a whole especially in Nigeria.
(ANB): Finally, Frank, who’d be the typical Venusian girl
(F.A.): The typical Fruché woman is very smart, assertive, she’s very hard working and yet likes to have fun and be free. She definitely knows who she is and she’s very confident in herself and her sexuality.
Creative direction: Frank Aghuno
Models: Makida Moka, Freda Oluku, Eseosa Belo-Osagie
Backdrop: Dricky Stickman
Film, Shot and edited by Daniel Obasi