I arrived at the tents at Eko Marquee to fashion enthusiasts, photographers, exhibitors and the media. The rain didn't slow anything down on the green carpet set outside. I grab my press pass and head inside the tent to the show in progress. It was the first day, the show’s opening, and it delivered some heavy hitters. Designs mainly by the up and coming and students. I tell you, we have some talented folks in Nigeria.
This year’s installment delivered as promised, there were a lot more designers rolled out in two days. As usual, I enjoyed it all—the pageantry, the models, the designers, the intricate fabrics of different colors, textures, styles, the ethnic inspired accessories with a with a modern twist, mingling with fellow industry professionals, meeting new faces, celebrities, fashionistas, collaborators. I got many compliments on my hair. Nigeria have really come a long way in fashion, the designers were really on point this year, had me wondering who to patronize at the end of the show. I’m just glad that as time goes, African inspired fashion have gained a mainstay and international recognition.
Day one delivered designers by the up and coming and students, namely Yaba Tech, FADAN, a Nigerian Student Fashion and Design Week winner. If the showcase was any indicator, I’d say the future is bright for these designers. Day two delivered more seasoned and well-known designers that have been making names for themselves and are recognized internationally, to include my good friend Adebayo Jones (more on him later).
Designers include:ADEBAYO JONES
ADY BY LINDA
BAROQUE BY WENDY
BIG BEN KILANI
COLOURS OF C.U.E
DEBBY AFRICAN STITCHES
DE LAURELS OUTFIT
ELIKEM. THE TAILOR
HOUSE OF LINEN
HOUSE OF PAMBAL
HOUSE OF SOLANGE
JP KOUTURE BY HADASSAH
LINES BY CHAAB X DAVIVA
MASSIVE BY FANNY
MBANA HOUSE OF STYLES
RUTH 1470 ACCESSORIES
REVOLUTION BY YETTY D X DAVIVA
More photos on Facebook
Event highlights include performance by child models for Tinnah Stylings by designer Toyin Lawani. They sashayed down the stage with swagger, to a rousing cheer by the audience, it’s like they were born for it! Amarachi—Nigeria’s got Talent winner and former alum led the procession, performing on stage. Although children’s clothes are hardly ever boring, this designer’s is especially fun. One would be excited to dress a kid up in the morning. JPKoutrue by Hadassah presented designs for full figured women with sass. Entertainment and flamboyant personality Denrele Edun didn’t fail to do what he does best—give the audience a dose of his big personality! I give it up to a guy who can rock high platformed heels like sneakers and big hair like mine. I loved his crochet braids. Notable actors Uti Nwachukwu and Ikechuchu Ogbonna walked for Big Ben Kilani collection.
I was throughly spent by the end of the first day. I was reeling and expectant of what the finale show would bring—more heavy hitters. Attendees had the opportunity to catch the Pre Gala and the Gala Show. With my gear in tow, I stepped out in the late afternoon to the red carpet to members of the media and guests, the show's already started. They pull me aside for interviews on my personal style. I spend approx. 30 mins with a young protégé. My goal was to find the models backstage. I love to catch them out of their element, their different personalities during downtime. Backstage was organized chaos, everyone was everywhere. As a photographer, I'm always a little hesitant to get in a person's personal space. I thread softly, gaging body language, not everyone likes having their picture taken. As soon as they see me though they open up almost instantly. This was my chance to acquaint myself with all these human mannequins. "Oh yeah! I remember you from last year" some say to me. They're all smiles, posing as my lens flicker away. I catch the models, , makeup artists, other photographers, the designers. Everyone ever so curious about my hair. I laugh now as I recall these lines: "Is this all your hair?" “Can I touch it?” Apparently, Nigerians are not well acquainted with crochet braids—a hair trend that pretty much rescued women with natural hair.
The venue at Eko hotels had been transformed into fashion wonderland, models sashayed late into the evening, coming to a head at the grand finale—the Gala Show. Cool FM’s Mercy Ajisafe and Mr. Nigeria 2014—Emmanuel Ikubese kept the audience entertained, dishing out awards and transitioning the audience through the program. Socialite, business mogul and fashionista—Ms. Abiola Okoya (more on her later) introduces a cause close to her heart. As the Global Ambassador for AFWN 2015 she’s on a fight for the eradication of Sickle Cell Anemia with Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria. SCFN is making access to treatment more attainable, continues on research studies that would make SCA more or less a chronic illness than a death sentence. The disease she knows all too well as it hits close to home with two of her children. A global awareness for a disease that affect quite a population in Nigeria cannot be understated—150,000 reported cases annually, with countless healthy carriers of the gene [more info here]. I’m especially proud a platform such as this one is creating awareness for serious issues in Nigeria, to include the fuel scarcity currently suffered by it’s citizens, it was especially hard for some attendees who navigated the jungles of Lagos to obtain fuel to be able to attend this event.
|Fuel Scarcity by Apple art creations|
AFWN 2015 Style and Fashion Awardees include: Emerging Fashion designer McStell, Emerging Stylist Damilola Oke for Fierce & Modish, Emerging Fashion Journalist Antonia Soares for Complete Fashion, Most Stylish Female Celebrity Yemi Alade, Most Stylish Male Celebrity Kunle Afolayan, Young Fashion Entrepreneur Olakunbi Oyelese for April By Kunbi, Fashion Icon Opral Benson and Contribution to African Fashion Lexzy Mojo-Eyes. One lucky audience member with a business card won a round trip ticket to Africa Fashion Week London 2015, courtesy of Travelfix.
|With Adebayo Jones (second left), Yetty Ogunnubi (center) and friends|
It’s been a whirlwind and this article is long overdue. More pictures from AFWN 2015 on my Facebook page.