Behind The Scenes at Lagos Fashion Week - All The Pretty Birds

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Behind The Scenes at Lagos Fashion Week

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Tamu McPherson | Wednesday November 7th 2018

Lagos Fashion WeekMaxivive

I have wanted to make the trip to Lagos Fashion Week for some time, my interest having been sparked season after season by its bosslady founder Omoyemi Akerele. From a distance I have had tastes of Nigeria here and there – the NYFW shows of designers Lisa Folawiyo and Maki Oh, which I attend religiously, stylish creatives like Oroma Elewa and Folasade Adeoso, whose cosmopolitan African aesthetic knocks me over each time I see them – but as they say, there ain’t nothing like the real thing baby, and this season I was fortunate enough to experience this convergence of important Afromodern design talent in person.

A self-proclaimed dreamer, Akerele founded Lagos Fashion Week (LFW) through her fashion and design development agency Style House Files to highlight and promote emerging African talent and the local industry at large. She is considered one of the foremost fashion champions in West Africa, and her commitment to her mission is reflected in the experience that she and her wonderful team personally curate for industry professionals visiting LFW. She is extremely hands on, balancing the organization of a 50+ designer show schedule, a gamut of events, factory and studio visits, and ensuring that visitors receive a truly authentic taste of local Lagos culture – art, shopping, design and yes, the best damn jollof rice the city has to offer. I’m looking forward to helping you get to know her better soon, so stay tuned.

I truly loved every aspect of this trip (even the crazy af traffic), because my fellow attendees were simply the best company. Visiting Lagos totally felt like going home. When Moyo and sweet Adebola met me at the airport, it was like reuniting with my little cousins. Their faces and mannerisms were so familiar, it felt like we’d know each other our whole lives (or at least it did to me, they probably think I’m just another crazy “influencer”), and my welcome only got better when I bumped into Abrima Erwiah of Studio 189 and her fantastic team when I checked into our hotel. A super chill impromptu dinner followed, setting the tone for the warm and friendly atmosphere of the next four days.

DNA by Iconic Invanity Fitting

Lagos Fashion WeekOrange Culture Fitting

In the days leading up to the event, the LFW production team organized around 20 fittings a day with an admirable precision and inventiveness (shout out to Rae, Joan and Heather), and so on my first full day in Lagos, I attended fittings at Heineken House (a principal corporate sponsor of LFW). It was incredibly moving to see so much stunning melanin everywhere my eye traveled. When we see the lack of black models on the international runways, it is definitely not for a lack of available talent. Agencies certainly need to spend more time visiting the continent, because the beauties are beyond real. And this is only a small representation of what exists throughout the diaspora! Also beyond important was the inclusivity in size, unparalleled in Lagos compared to any other fashion week I have attended. There were a wide variety of African body types, not just the size zeros we are accustomed to seeing in the west. This is an important characteristic of the casting that I hope is maintained as the industry grows.

Hotel Bogobiri House

Hotel Bogobiri House

Hotel Bogobiri House

Hotel Bogobiri House

After our fittings, Adebola and I headed to meet the rest of the press gang at Bogobiri House Hotel for a delicious plate of jollof rice and a moment to take in the eclectic design space. Comprised of 16 charming rooms, Bogobiri also houses the Nibus Art Gallery, Orishirishi restaurant, and is the home of a very well-attended live music night. The vibe is whimsical and chill, and I will surely be back on my next visit.

Next was LFW’s Business Series Dinner “The Gathering”, where Omoyemi Akerele moderated Daniel Hatton, founder of Commonwealth Fashion Council, photographer and creative Trevor Stuurman and I on the topic of “The Role of Platforms in Fashion’s Value Chain.” The discussion was super enlightening and underlined the power of storytelling and the importance of collaborative initiatives in today’s fashion ecosystem.

With Kabir and Avi Wadhani of Temple Muse

Alara

Obviously I could not wait to go shopping, so on Day 2 we hit all of Lagos best design boutiques. First on the list was Temple Muse, where brothers Kabir and Avi Wadhani generously walked us through their thoughtfully curated boutique and explained the philosophy of their space and assortment in relation to their loyal client base. Next we stopped at Alara Boutique and Restaurant Nok by Alara, where we enjoyed a perfect selection of sharing plates. A luxury fashion and design paradise, Alara was founded by the brilliant Reni Folawiyo, who I am looking forward to introducing you to in better detail soon on ATPB.

My Portrait by Kelechi Amadi-Obi

That evening, we made our way to the tents for the first official day of shows. Heineken hosted press and VIP guests in a specially designed lounge where attendees could have their portraits taken by Nigeria’s top photographer Kelechi Amadi-Obi. Our little crew enjoyed a serious Naija moment there while taking in the who’s-who of Lagos and feeling the pre-show buzz.

LFW is back-to-back shows that last approximately three hours.  I was most impressed by the collections presented by Lagos Space Programme, Fruché, Nack and Maxivive. Some of my favorite captures are below!

Lagos Space  Programme

Fruché

Lagos Fashion WeekFruché

Nack

Nack

Lagos Fashion WeekAnyango Mpinga

Lagos Fashion WeekAnyango Mpinga

Lagos Fashion WeekDNA by Iconic Invanity

Lagos Fashion WeekDNA by Iconic Invanity

Lagos Fashion WeekMaxivive

Lagos Fashion WeekMaxivive

Lagos Fashion WeekMaxivive

Lagos Fashion WeekMaxivive

Zara Odu, Sarah Diouf and Nisha Kanabar

The next day, Zara Odu generously hosted Sarah Diouf, founder of Tongoro Studio, Nisha Kanabar, co-founder of Industrie Africa and myself for lunch at Craft Gourmet by Lou Baker. Co-founder Baker infuses cuisine from her native Lebanon into an international array of yummy plates, including the classic chicken and waffles. The restaurant’s moto is “honest and handcrafted food.” Do stop by if you are ever in town. The menu of fresh juices is legit.

Day 2 of the shows included stunning collections by Rich Mnisi, Tongoro Studio and Lisa Folawiyo. This was also the day that I made my official runway debut in the Studio 189 show. Yes, that’s me with my eyes closed. I was probably looking down out of fear of tripping over my own feet. But all in all, it was a super fun experience. Thanks Abrima!

My catwalk debut with Studio 189.

Lagos Fashion WeekLisa Folawiyo

Day 3, the last day of the shows, had the absolute best lineup and featured some of the strongest collections, including Elie Kuame, Tokyo James, Iamisigo, Sisiano, Maxhosa by Laduma, Meena, Nkwo, Mai Atafo, and the show closer, Orange Culture.

I am still absorbing all of the electric energy and raw talent that I witnessed in just five days in Lagos, and I think it may take me til the new year to dissect the magic of these wonderful collections. I am so inspired by each and every designer that I had the pleasure of meeting and sharing time with!  As a group, they are so smart and inventive, each contributing to the story of this beautiful and innovative African fashion universe. The style is informed by tradition while remaining modern and cosmopolitan. The collections also spoke to important global issues such as gender and LGBTQ rights, and the digital arena’s role in information and view sharing. There is a real sense of community between the designers, such an important factor as the industry will continue to grow throughout the diaspora.  LFW is definitely a leg on the global fashion circuit that I intend to make a regular feature on my calendar!

Lagos Fashion WeekElie Kuame

Lagos Fashion WeekTokyo James

Lagos Fashion WeekAdama Paris

Lagos Fashion WeekIamisigo

Lagos Fashion WeekSisiano

Lagos Fashion WeekMaxhosa by Laduma

Lagos Fashion WeekMaxhosa by Laduma

Lagos Fashion WeekMeena

Lagos Fashion WeekMeena

Lagos Fashion WeekNkwo

Lagos Fashion WeekMai Atafo

Lagos Fashion WeekMaki Oh

Lagos Fashion WeekMaki Oh

Lagos Fashion WeekOrange Culture

Lagos Fashion WeekOrange Culture

Lagos Fashion WeekOrange Culture

Lagos Fashion WeekOrange Culture

Lagos Fashion WeekOrange Culture

 

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