At first, it’s excitement, then you get the only slightly destabilising dizziness. Towards the end you notice the slow-creeping exhaustion, and then, finally, you get the sadness, and she comes in waves. The four-day Heineken Lagos Fashion and Design Week usually leaves you feeling a plethora of emotions and the 2017 edition was no exception. The shows, of course, did not disappoint. After all, they were held in virgin-land Eko Atlantic, a sprawling high brow settlement reclaimed from the Atlantic, how could they let us down? The fashion darlings – a la Bonang Matheba, Eku Edewor and our fave, Uche Uba – were front and center. But, we bet you”re wondering, when it came to the designers, who did what? We run through a few of our faves below:
STYLE TEMPLE by Og Okonkwo: A Fashion Ode to Unapologetic Women
Og is one designer who understands the very thin line between art and commerce. Luckily for us, she shows this off in the clinical precision through all her designs and the technical prowess only she can boast of with an array of fabrics.
The first look was a baby blue floor-length gown with exaggerated shoulder pads over the left shoulder. This gown was both structural and fluid at the same time and this resonated through most of the pieces in her collection; a certain strength but also a certain fragility.
The collection itself was both unapologetic and beautiful, shown in the completely sheer knee-length white gown with ruffles, lace and gold trimmings, as well as the baby blue number that was simultaneously a pair of pants and a pair of shorts with enough oomph to make even Rihanna look twice.
The colours – white, baby blue and blush – acted like antidotes, making the daring clothes give off a feeling of being almost delicate.
Og understands what women want and then she gives them extra because who doesn’t like extra?
MAXIVIVE by Babatunde Oyeyemi: Gender is Dead
Oyeyemi has created a world, and in this world there are no boundaries. Here, men are women who are men who become women. There are no genders, only clothes.
The collection had a combination of formal and street wear. Jackets were paired with knee-high socks and white shirts with exaggerated sleeves were paired with black leggings.
The final quarter of the collection had pieces that (maybe unintentionally) oozed S&M. This is noticeable especially in the caged ensemble worn over pants, pants that went all the way up to the chest and pants with an exposed crotch area, showing off the beige-coloured briefs underneath.
Oyeyemi doesn’t just make clothes, he makes feelings too. A feeling that anything is possible.
ELIE KUAME: An Introduction to Sensuality
Post-modern romanticism with hints of perversion. White, Black and Burgundy. Kuame’s latest collection felt like a merging of two worlds: One, a feminine woman in touch with her sensuality, and the other, an androgynous woman playing by her own rules.
The see-through silver gown had a gentle provocation to it, nudity that managed to marvel in the same way the final piece, an ethereal space blue gown, did.
Elie understands sensuality and how to give it in the right measure.
EMMY KASBIT by Emmanuel Okoro: A Short Travel through History
One word that resonated with Emmanuel during the run up to the show was Akwete: a hand-woven textile.
The okpu agu –woven beanies worn primarily by the Igbo people in Nigeria– embedded into some of the looks, provided for a fresh and exciting show.
Beyond style and craftsmanship, Emmanuel’s collection had soul and you could tell the colours were deliberate: custard yellow, electric blue and raspberry red laid on outfits woven to perfection.
Emmanuel’s collection had depth, the kind which was undeniable.
NKWO: Tribal Chic
Meticulous deconstruction, denim layering and careful patch work ruled at Nkwo. This show opened with a striped shirt sporting a careful tear –a feature that ran throughout the collection– which hung freely, and sleeves that extended beyond the fingers. There was a relatable avant-garde feel that crept through the collection, most noticeable in the jacket with oversized disjointed sleeves thrown over a white shirt.
Nkwo built a chic nomadic city with its runway show and our bags are packed.
RICH MNISI: A Joyous Passage
Fun prints and oversized jackets, Mnisi’s collection was a love affair. The designer approached colour with a certain finesse and boldness, most visible in the metallic silver gown with bishop sleeves.
There were no boundaries. A dusty brown multi-coloured jacket was the star of the night and it had enough volume to create drama but not so much it was overpowering. It just worked.
Mnisi’s approach to layering was satisfying enough to compel one to layer, even in our sweltering climes.
LISA FOLAWIYO: An Artistic Voyage
One word to describe Folawiyo’s collection? We have three: Artistic; Chic; Different.
Folawiyo approached the collection like a painter, mixing colours and prints you wouldn’t normally think could work together but she made them do The Waltz. A purple print silk skirt paired with a button-up blue print long-sleeved shirt? Madness! But it worked. It worked a bit too well.
There’s a tackiness that usually seeps through mixing prints but Folawiyo understands this and avoids it like a master driver weaving through Lagos’ potholes. With this collection, she pushed buttons one wouldn’t normally push, plastering sequins over a print shift gown and a long-sleeve blouse.
Folawiyo paints with her collections and she does so beautifully.
CHRISTIE BROWN by Aisha Ayensu: Feminism 101
One visible element at the show this year was the re-awakening of feminism across the country. Women and men across Nigeria are developing a deeper understanding of the ideology and are starting to understand that feminism goes beyond a woman choosing to cook (or not) and this was seen as the word ‘feminist’ splashed across the screens as models walked by.
The collection was oh so refreshing and oh so brilliant. Every piece was, indeed, a masterpiece as Aisha’s collection took no prisoners.
ONALAJA: I Am Here… Vividly
You could see right through Onalaja’s collection, in more ways than one, as the first quarter of the collection was dominated by sheath transparent white pieces.
What was most interesting was the progressiveness through the show. What started off with sheer white clothes, almost like a blank canvas, evolved into colour and then prints paired with monochrome colours.
Texture broke through in the final quarter of the collection; symmetrically placed floral petals over the waist of a sheer midi gown, and a black top with a fringed red heart to symbolize blood dripping from the heart.
Onalaja understands the art of getting attention and keeping it and we are grateful for this.
ORANGE CULTURE by Adebayo Oke-Lawal: Flamboyant Wonderland
Was it the light chiffon fabric tied around the models’ hands and necks? Was it the transparent long jacket that gave it away? Whatever it was, Adebayo’s collection was aptly named.
The styles were contemporary. Shorts paired with shirts under long jackets; cigarette pants paired with long-sleeved shirts and shirts with uneven lengths. It was all very modern-day fashion.
The true magic, though, lay in the choice of colour – sage green, royal blue and purple – which, when combined with the prints, gave the light silk fabrics an added texture.
Like a puppet master, Adebayo knows what strings to pull, how and when to pull it.
MAKI OH by Amaka Osakwe: Contemporary Intervention
Osakwe has the singular power of making clothes look effortless. However, in your time of quiet reflection, you realise that nothing on that runway happened by chance. Not the ruffled pants and certainly not the white, airy midi gown.
Her infamous Adire – indigo dyed cloth – of course, came to play in a tube midi gown and in an oversized blouse with ruffled sleeves.
The combination of an oversized jacket and chiffon skirt showed that true style is what you make of it.
Osakwe gets the job done and the only thing you should do is sit back and enjoy the show.
TIFFANY AMBER by Folake Coker: Sophistication Overload
A Tiffany Amber woman is the kind of woman you can only look at. You don’t touch, you don’t speak, you are only permitted to look. Why? Because she’s royalty.
Coker’s collection was both sexy and powerful. The bishop sleeves, the restricted skirts and the sheer blouses were a modern take on the traditional Yoruba Iro and Buba attire.
The collection felt rich without trying. Maybe it was the Adire or the woven fabrics, or maybe it was the long jackets with fur attached to the sleeves, whatever it was, Amber knew how to play the right cards to win.
BRIDGET AWOSIKA: A Little Heart Wouldn’t Hurt
This collection wore its heart on its sleeves. Well, not really. But, there were hearts on hearts on hearts plastered on blouses to give a high-fashion 3D effect and it did so beautifully.
The pairing of black, white and blush tones gave this illusion of a mosaic art.
Awosika’s ability to make modern clothes eye-catching, simple but sophisticated, soft yet powerful is really the only kind of contradiction we want in our lives.