Days of the National Art’s Theater Lagos standing as just an ordinary national monument are over. The once abandoned edifice, which played host to this year’s Africa Fashion Week Nigeria (AFWN) was brought back to life, as top personalities, fashion editors, celebrities, fashion photographers and marketers from across Africa thronged the venue to see what the fashion forecast for next season will be.
Held last Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th June, the well-attended event lit up the hallway of entrance B, with a number of fashion exhibitors displaying beautifully crafted fashion pieces, from bags, clothes, shoes, jewelry to beauty kits all with a hint of African vibes.
With three shows on the first day, day one kicked off on Saturday to refreshing collections from mostly emerging designers, with support from some established brands. From Zambia’s Africa Wala, Liman Hassan bold, vivid colour mini dresses, Mmakemba who sent models down the runway in brows with red highlights, faux leather with tassels dresses, to Veens elegant shirt dresses, with an all-white, blue and black colour theme, designers showcased boldness in the simplicity of colours, design and textures. The silhouettes are tailored and soft with an overall feeling of wearability.
Fabric company and sponsors of the event DaViva, in collaboration with Swarovski and ABC wax, closed day one with its solo show, featuring the relaunch of the ABC fabric, with designers sending models down the runway in different interpretation of the indigenous fabric. Ghana’s Nipo Skin captured the audience with his one of a kind pieces and contemporary interpretation of evening dresses, print crop jackets and pants with floral motif, all inspired by the reinvention of the ABC wax. Ace designer Maureen Onigbanjo of House of Maufechi once again took her place as one to reckon with in the industry, with her collection where chic regal dresses, couture dresses with ruffles, tassels and Swaroski details held sway.
Day two began with an exciting collection by some of the designers. Most impressive however was Oreva Okowa of Signature Secret, who wowed the audience with her highly original, fresh approach to gemstone designs on drape tops, dress shirts and brief corporate tops, created for the woman who is cosmopolitan and believes that elegance knows no bounds. Sally Bawa was on hand with slip dresses made from soft, delicate fabrics in shimmering black and highlighted with tassels, a collection with lots of nudity on dis[play which apparently caught the attention of most of the audience. The men do have a lot of inspiration to tap from this season, as male designers churned out a lot of classy, collection that will go from runaway to red carpet. From the most fashion comfy sneakers, by Ibile collection, to Neopele who sent models out in some of the most interesting collection of black and white tuxedos, to informal suits with crisscross buttons, some all-white suits with bowler hats, on ankle length trousers. For Del Africa it was a reinvention of the baggie trousers with tampered hem, popularly called ‘Kembe’ by the Yorubas, while Kola Kudus closed the show with a collection that was rooted in exploring the beauty of Afrocentric fabrics creating exquisite styles for the modern man.
The event was attended by important dignitaries including Oba S.A Elegushi, Princess Abiola Dosunmu, Hon. Obasa Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon, Funmilayo Tejuosho and special guest of honor Mr. Segun Awolowo Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Abba Folawiyo amongst others. While delivering his speech, Mr Awolowo commended Ronke Ademiluyi founder of Africa Fashion Week Nigeria and London for creating a credible platform which has projected the creativity and talent of our people in the industry.
The two day show was punctuated with musical and traditional performances, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria, with the popular Eyo display to the delight of the audience.
From the exhibition stand, well turned out personalities, to the magnificent runway and inspiring collection, the AFWN, now in its fourth year, has over the years become the most visible platform to changing the African fashion narrative to the world. The AFWN this year featured 50 designers, most of whom floored the runaways with contemporary collections that identify with Africa’s aesthetic, signature and brand.