Nigeria Fashion Week highlights African designers

By Yinka Ibukun

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, March 13 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

It was an eclectic and wearable collection of browns and blues that reflected the young designer's own cultural mix.

"My inspiration is to mix different cultures, because that was how I was brought up," said Maleombho, who was born in Brazil, raised in Ivory Coast and later moved to New York.


Ozwald Boateng, a British couturier born to Ghanaian parents, was the main attraction for those attending the event. He presented a collection inspired by a trip he made to Japan in 1990, while he was still making his name in fashion.

"It's a traditional English look, with a Japanese inspiration," he said.

Male models wearing the designs walked in dim lighting that dramatized the mostly black-and-white collection of a designer who has been called the "peacock" of British haute couture for his generous use of color in the past. Still, the feel was very modern and strongly masculine.

Color did make an appearance in some pieces. At the end of this finale show, the crowd gave a standing ovation when Boateng himself appeared on the runway in a royal green suit, canary yellow shirt and black tie with a matching straw. He walked the U-shaped runway, dancing at the end of his walk, to applause and cheers.

Boateng, the first black tailor to move to London's prestigious Savile Row area back in 1995, said he makes clothes for the man who wants his clothes to communicate who he is.

"My clothes help that happen," Boateng said.


Like Boateng, South Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek, received rousing applause when she appeared on the catwalk, each time responding with a smile.

"I was very impressed designer after designer; the diversity and the shapes, the fabrics, the music and the energy," said Wek, who's now in her mid-thirties. "It's beautiful to be a part of that."

African models are eager to participate on the international playing field. Many of the Nigerian models who walked on the runway have day jobs to sustain themselves, with the local fashion industry still in its infancy.

Those local models remain eager to take up the mantle from Wek's generation and other African models who have come after her. However, it remains unclear when another chance will come. Obaigbena announced at the show's finale Sunday that interest had been building up in Cape Town, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya to host the next Africa-focused fashion week. With Nigeria's logistical challenges, Obaigbena and his partners may seek a new location where fashion — not electricity — remains the only concern. Unless the great number of designers and fashion lovers in Lagos can convince them otherwise.


ARISE Magazine: http://www.arisemagazine.net/

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