Exclusive: Adebayo Oke-Lawal reveals his AW19 lookbook and film on Nataal
Next season, Orange Culture declares Do Not Look Under My Skirt! Adebayo Oke-Lawal’s AW19 collection is a colourful rebuttal to Nigerian society’s conservative norms and continues his label’s celebration of emotionally sensitive masculinity. This was also the theme of his recent talk at Design Indaba in Cape Town, where the collection made its catwalk debut. From the very outset of Orange Culture in 2011, he told the conference audience that his mission has been to go against gender stereotypes and toxic masculinity and to use fashion for social change.
Since those early days, Oke-Lawal has shown at Lagos Fashion Week, South African Menswear Week and London Fashion Week. He’s been nominated for the 2014 LVMH Prize and 2018 Woolmark Prize. He’s also created a capsule with Davido for Selfridges, dressed Lupita Nyongo, Dua Lipa and Chimamanda Adichie and collaborated with everyone from mobile giant Huawei to fellow Nigerian menswear label Maxivive. So it’s safe to say that his confident storytelling is being received loud and clear, and none more so than for AW19 thanks to the collection’s vibrant colours and in your face prints. Nataal sat down with the Lagos-based designer at Design Indaba to hear more.
So tell us, what inspired AW19?
The collection is about how society is too fixated on how we represent ourselves and basically saying, mind your own business! There are always people who try to tell you how you should dress in order to look responsible or look like a man but we should have the liberty to be however we want to be and that’s beautiful in itself.
How have these sentiments been translated into the designs?
A lot of the prints are literal – they say on them ‘Don’t look under my skirt’ because that would be the most invasive thing you could do. I like this idea of graffiti but for it to also feel delicate. There’s also a print based on the face of someone close to me who I feel represents that confidence. Many of the silhouettes are based on traditional women’s garments like the boubou while the more masculine jackets and trousers have openings that allow you to show some skin.
What is your creative process each season?
I’m always making notes about things I want to say. From there I think about prints and start sketching and listening to music. Usually there are songs that become important. This season sounds like battle, my boys are marching into a club and dancing under dark lights and being free.
You call Orange Culture a movement. In what ways?
Orange Culture is about using fashion to create conversations around our direct environment. For example, one season talked about boys being abused in school. Fashion can be a vehicle for social change and Orange Culture is a movement that is having a real impact. We’ve also started hosting fashion classes in Lagos where people can learn how to build their craft. We have a lack of infrastructure so this is a way we can build the industry up.
What’s on the cards for the rest of the year?
I’ll be showing AW19 in London, and we’re also opening an Orange Culture space in Lagos with a store and café. It’ll be somewhere to hang out and eat cute canapés!
Words Helen Jennings
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Published on 02/04/2019