In my usual habit, I have a thing for lenses that flicker, especially my own. So as usual, my lens flickered while I quietly observed. One thing peculiar about models—they are consummate professionals in unflinching stances. It's easy to mistake them for mannequins as they're all dolled up like so. It's easy to forget: that's a human standing there, until one walks up to you in the restaurant while you're getting some lunch and says "Hi, I hope you're coming back?" And I say "Of course, I'm not going anywhere!" How do you yank a kid away from a candy store?
So there I was, amongst folks here to ensure it commences without a hinge. Of course, I wasn't the only photographer there, there were quite a few of us, each looking to capture a unique moment. There's exchange of pleasantries, collaborations form between creative people, all looking to make a mark in the world. I met some amazing hair artists, photographers, media houses, writers, bloggers and everyone with a unique gift in between.
While models prep, crew members work tirelessly to put the stage and runway together. It's the "hurry up and wait" phenomenon as usual in this business. Everyone's on a timer anticipating a big show. This year's event would be the first and one of the biggest of it's kind for Nigeria, many years in the making. Its creators successfully launched Africa Fashion Week in London in 2011 with subsequent runs till date. Founder and CEO Ronke Ademiluyi reassures Nigeria of the show's success. "The first edition of the Africa Fashion Week Nigeria is set to be a successful one. We have such a diverse cross section of designers participating, showcasing the great talent coming out of Nigeria and Africa as a whole at the moment. We inten[d] to create a generation of brand new Nigerian Designers by need analysis which is identifying what the young up coming designers need and creating a method of assisting them into becoming sustainable brands. We are confident that this will positively impact on the economic growth of Nigeria." She intends to create a paradigm shift towards the perception of Fashion design as an instrument of economic reconstruction. This year's tentative date for London is slated for August 7th-9th. There are tentative dates for Amsterdam and Brussels.
29-31 2014 will boast big names in the fashion industry, CEOs, high level politicians and media powerhouses from all over the world.
With ever increasing need for a platform where emerging African designers can be noticed and recognized, this event has done just that. You had to wonder why we waited so long for this—the designs were breathtaking, mostly rich and luxurious fabrics with luscious colors in African prints the fashion industry have come to know and love on a global scale. The dress makers brewed with so much creativity and it showed. The pieces just hung on the moving mannequins in all it's crafted glory. One-by-one, models sashayed the runway in one unique design after another in mostly wearable pieces. I wouldn't mind some of the designs in my own closet.
M: What inspired your collection this year?
O: Majorly, it's not really my own inspiration, I participated in a competition and were told to give a
particular expression to a theme. We had two themes, one is a revolution, kind of like the evolving
of fashion and stuff like that; and then the other one is 'em, Ever green--like going green. So, that's
M: Are you based here in Lagos, Nigeria?
M: Is this your first show?
O: This is my first major show, I've done other shows here in Lagos too, and that's Mr. Ideal and then
I've also done some at Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University), that's a student's Ife Runway Show,
not the one by Black and Bold. Those are the major ones.
M: How did you get started in fashion?
O: Well, I'm an architect and I finished my OA at Obafemi Awolowo University. It's kind of like part
of me and my mum is a tailor, so I've been designing all my life.
M: Are you one of those people who'd been scrawling on a notebook for a longtime (laughs), and
now you've decided to show your gift to the world
O: (Laughs) Exactly.
AFWA Production Manager and Adviser Aydin Acik and Diana Tambe BlackPearl.
O: Thank you very much.
M: I like people who showcase their talent, they're not afraid to do something different from the
O: Thank you.
M: That's really commendable. So, where do you see yourself in the next few years?
O: Ehm, well I intend participating in Project Runway. Which actually, they might do it in the US or
Canada, wherever. I hope to participate and I think it's going to move me to the next level and I
hope to interact with the popularity—the people in the US or Canada and all like that. So that's
majorly it, but as of the moment, I'm going to do my Master's, I'd also have to go to fashion
school, I want to go to fashion school because, whatever knowledge I have is just basic
knowledge. I'd like to see what is out there.
M: Well, we see your basic knowledge and there's nothing "basic" about it.
O: (Laughs) Thank you very much.
M: You're just going to be adding to what you already know. It's gonna be more like an enrichment.
One more question, is there a place to find your collection? Do you have a store?
O: Ehm, I actually work from home, I have a small place in my house where I do my work, but you
can contact me: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
M: I wish you the best in what you're doing, I hope to see you somewhere that's really, really I can
say: "I know her!"
O: (Laughs) Thank you.
M: Thank you so much for interviewing with me.
The show also delivered heavyweights of Nollywood—Ramsey Nouah and Monalisa Chindas; Big Brother Africa Contestants, Sen. Daisy Danjuma—Grand Patron of the first edition Africa Fashion Week Nigeria; Nigerian Idol Season 1 winner Amarachi.
I'd like to thank AFWN: Ronke Ademiluyi—Founder and CEO of AFWL and AFWN; Madamme Abiola Okoya, for such a great effort and a successful show I'm proud to be a part of. Special shout outs to all artists I met and mingled with during the show, all the admirers (you know who you are). It's been a blast! This scene will always be my wonderland.
Olasimbo Syms and Muse.
Thanks for reading.
I appreciate you.