Nataal’s catwalk highlights from the 8th edition of Lagos Fashion Week

Tongoro has mastered the art of matchy-matchy this season. The womenswear line by Senegalese creative force Sarah Diouf is all about effortless dressing, which right now means matching your cute rain hat and clutch with your long dress or jumpsuit. Everything was loose and floaty, allowing for the tie-dyed and painterly prints in soft hues to ebb and flow as models walked. Bubus fell delightfully off the shoulder, balloon sleeves billowed and trench coats cinched nicely.

Maki Oh
With one t-shirt hollering ‘Fresh fish’ and another covered in menu prices, Maki Oh’s SS19 transported us to the juicy corners of Nigerian bukas. These community restaurants where women rule the pots and pans are also where many long nights end, giving this collection a spicy energy. Knots, twists and drapes on slim skirts and kaftans hinted at wrapped eba and fufu while the use of a silver lurex echo the use aluminium sinks to soap up dirty dishes. Designer Amaka Osakwe created her signature adire in Ogun State this season, the motifs inspired by “the viscosity of okra soup stains and pure water”. Hot shades of pink, red and blue, as well as metallic fringing, added a touch of clandestine appeal. And for palette cleansers, we’re served up just enough simple white linen and black silk dresses.

Rich Mnisi
Rich Mnisi had it all going on in his high-octane offering. Animal prints, spots, stripes, checks, modernist prints and bright colour blocking made up just the surface of things with designs ranging from vinyl jackets, leotards and organza trousers for the guys and pretty blouses, asymmetric dresses and deconstructed boobtubes for the gals. The South African designer’s on-going muse is Nwa-Mulamula. “She is a symbolic representation of African mothers in all their glory who has been lost in time and buried in our hearts,” he says. “I am daydreaming her in the role of a matriarch at a Lobola marriage ceremony. My pieces reflect the nostalgic colours, textures and gifts that symbolically transport me back home.”

Maxhosa by Laduma
Continuing his obsession with preserving and evolving his Xhosa culture through knitwear and pattern, South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo marked his forth Lagos FW show with bold looks for both men and women. Keeping the silhouette simple, cardigans, pencil skirts, pinafore dresses and trousers acted as receptacles for many different and delightfully clashing geometric patterns in either black and white monochrome or more earthy shades. The show also featured his capsule bag collection in association with Okapi and rapper Riky Rick, which were slung nonchalantly across bodies, and his signature socks, pulled up nice and high.

Studio One Eighty Nine
Studio One Eighty Nine brought smiles to everyone’s faces with their upbeat show featuring special guest Tamu McPherson among the diverse casting. This label by Abrima Erwiah and Rosario Dawson recently won the CFDA + Lexus Fashion Initiative for its sustainable practices that uplift artisans and women in West Africa. SS19’s summery offering, entitled Patois – the informal language that connects many across Africa, the Caribbean and the diaspora – was dominated by many bright and breeze his ‘n’ hers looks that made the most of the label’s handmade and organic cloths. Palm leaf and geometric prints in hot house hues brought simple silhouettes such as A-line maxi skirts, blazers and shirts alive while kimonos came in recycled denim and indigo. Finishing touches included pineapple leather and dried grass-woven belt bags and jewellery in collaboration with L’enchanteur.

Faith Oluwajimi enjoyed both his catwalk debut and winning the inaugural ALARA Emerge award during Lagos FW. His unisex label Bloke focuses on experimental knitwear and for SS19, entiltled A Collection About Nothing, he presented pale grey, black and white pieces, both knitted and tailored, embellished with either circle motifs or lines of silk screen printed poetry. “The collection expresses Dadaist ideas around the concept of ‘nothing’ being an entity in itself,” Oluwajimi explains. “If you assume absence is a relevant substance, then using the Bloke ethos informed by the avant-garde art movement, then nothing is never black or white but the grey matter in between.”

Bubu Ogisi of I.Am.Isigo was thinking about everything from South American masquerade costumes and the swag of morris dancers to the fine arts of West Africa to come up with her effervescent collection. Gods of the Wilderness saw her collaborate with New York-based visual artist Chioma Ebinama on sack-like masks that fully covered each model’s heads and were paired with “abstract garments” that blurred the line between fashion and craft. “The collection positions African fashion as an essential part of forming a visual identity that transgresses post-colonial notions of our contributions to the art work,” Ogisi explains. Statement macramé and crochet-style knitted pieces reminiscent of colourful blankets came striped and fringed with demure basic silk and linen layers supplying the backdrop. The finale look – a fluffy peach wool ensemble that entirely covered the wearer’s body - was a fitting end this confident presentation.

Orange Culture
Adebayo Oke-Lawal closed Lagos FW with his SS19 collection, The Orange Moon. He unleashed a riotous explosion of rainbow colours across a line-up of peaceful warrior looks. From the Handmaid’s Tail millinery, large brass accessories and twisted wire bags to the smudgy print shirts and blood red suits, these were looks that took no prisoners. And neither did songstress Falana, who sung us out with her new song Repeat. “Even as art and how we engage with Africa is broadening beyond the continent, the freedom to express being be a fully developed, complex individual, still comes at a cost,” says Oke-Lawal of his thoughts behind the season. “This freedom exists though, and this is a celebration of the people who persevere; the people who give their voices and passion and soul in order that other people could be recognised first as humans, before any other identity that might undervalue or compromise their humanity.”



Nataal would like to thank the British Council’s West Africa Arts programme for supporting our editorial focus on Nigeria

Photography SDR Photo

Published on 03/11/2018