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LFDW 2016: A journal entry

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denolaLFDW came, we saw, it conquered. Heineken’s Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2016 was a huge success. The 4-day event, held at Lagos’ Federal Palace Hotel brought together the fashion and entertainment industry’s brightest and finest. From the street styles to the runway, fashion and creativity was the dominant currency and the individuals indulging in it were unapologetic consumers and spectators.

Day 1 (Wednesday 26th): I was unable to attend the shows on Day One due to prior commitments. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I looked terrible! I had just gotten off shooting for a television show and I looked a right mess. This day was taken to get myself ready for the rest of fashion week. After a scheduled teeth cleaning and a much-needed visit to my barber (Eric, you are the man!), I headed to Federal Palace to pick up my tickets and press passes.

Although I did not get to see the shows in person on Day 1, I kept up with what went down online and through social media. The standout designers for me were Rayo, Style Temple, Wanger Ayu and Titi Belo. Each possessed a unique aesthetic that dared to be different with prints and unorthodox cuts that highlighted the power of the female form.

Another notable collection from “Day 1” was the “About That Curvy Life” collective. The collective featured 5 designers and was put together by Latasha Ngwube who coined the now popular phrase. The significance of this collective was that, it was the first time I had seen a full plus-size only collection at LFDW. Brands like Assian and Maki Oba showed their collections under ‘About That Curvy Life’ and they did not disappoint. The end result was nothing short of fabulous and extremely inclusive, with all the brands accepting and celebrating all body types.

Day 2 (Thursday 27th): I made it to the show today! I was excited to finally get to see the collections up, close and personal. I also got a chance to have a look at some of the brands in the ‘X Retail Space”, which I had learned, a few weeks prior, would be available from Day 2. The X Retail space accommodated a number of brands and small businesses directly or closely related to the fashion industry. The initiative has proven to be not only functional and successful but highly necessary given the current economic climate. Brands were given access to hard-to-get target markets and consumers could shop favorite brands that would have been otherwise inaccessible. The initiative to ‘Buy Nigerian” was greatly pushed and from what I observed, largely successful!

The runway shows were great and I got to see some of my favorites like, Ré and IamIsigo take the runway this year. Both collections did not disappoint and were unapologetic in their aesthetic. My top picks from the day were Ladunni Lambo, Déji Ęniola and studio 189. Ladunni Lambo first appeared on the LFDW Runway as a finalist in the MTN British Council Lagos Fashion and Design Week Young Designer Entrepreneur awards. She showed a collection under the ‘Fashion Focus” category in 2013.

She made a return to the runway this year with a strong collection that set the tone of what could potentially become a largely successful brand. Déji Eniola, a menswear designer, took on the male silhouette by paying attention to a form and structure that is sure to be a major trend in 2017. Studio 189 was a brand that pleasantly surprised me. The brand, which is run by creative directors Abrima Erwiah and Rosario Dawson, presented a ready-to-wear collection that was responsible in its Afrocentricism. Overall, Day 2 was pretty good. I personally got complements on my outfit and in any book, that’s always a fashion win!

Day 3 (Friday 28th): Wardrobe crisis! The outfits I had picked out for Day 3 suddenly became unavailable! I spent the better part of the day making calls and trying to handle the wardrobe situation (I know, I’m really dramatic). I eventually did get around the drama an hour and a half before the shows. Whew! Upon arriving at the venue, I saw something I hadn’t noticed the day before. The Heineken experience tunnel was fully operational and renowned photographer, Kelechi Amadi Obi, was hard at work, taking portraits of fashionable subjects against the backdrop of a set that had been built for that specific purpose. Of course I had to get my picture taken! Within an hour, I had over 6, high quality, beautifully shot images in my email waiting to be shared on Instagram.

The central theme for the shows on Friday was DRAMA. Within the first hour of the runway shows, the creative director of the brand Johnson-Johnson, proposed to his girlfriend during the finale of his presentation. With over 1,000 screaming fashionistas cheering him on and a surprise performance by singer Ric Hassani, he got down on one knee and popped the question. Don’t worry, she said yes! The moment instantly became viral and made the rounds on social media within minutes.

It would have been hard to top such an epic moment, but some brands did just that with truly amazing collections. Loza Maleombho, Iconic Invanity and crowd favorite Grey, wowed with spectacular collections. Closing the show was a production by Mai Atafo. The designer, who presented his new bridal collection, did so in the way only Mai can. With singer Kaline Akinkugbe belting out beautiful tunes during the presentation, the models led a bridal procession that culminated in the most epic wedding dress, which was modeled by Tania Omotayo. After Mai’s spectacular showcase, I hopped in the car and raced over to Alara to catch Maki Oh’s SS17 presentation. The presentation was an intimate affair with only 75members of the fashion elite in attendance. The collection was, as expected, purely original and was characteristic of the designer who has recently made great strides both at home and abroad. Despite a rocky start, day 3 ended well and I even got to attend two fashion parties after the last presentation!

Day 4 ( Saturday 29th): Running on fumes! Who knew that taking in so much fashion could be exhausting. The final day of LFDW is always manic so I was determined to get there in time and secure a good seat so I could see it all! I picked up my outfit from Adebayo Oke-Lawal (Creative Director of Orange Culture) earlier, and after a brief personal fitting I was off to Federal Palace. My favorites were showing today.

Orange Culture, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, Bridget Awosika and Lisa Folwaiyo all in one day! They all showed up and showed out! The collections were nothing short of amazing. Two designers also pleasantly surprised me. Washington Roberts and Kelechi Odu’s collections caught my attention for all the right reasons. Washington Roberts’ collection gave me the glam factor that I needed with great finishing on the clothes and bold lux colors. Kelechi Odu paid attention to male form and found new ways to highlight it while maintaining the comfort aspect. Those two brands have been added to my list of brand to look out for next year.

LFDW was definitely a hit this year. There was more innovation on the runway than ever and it is clear that designers are paying more attention to details and are honing their crafts. This year the theme was “Connecting the Dots” and it couldn’t be any more accurate. The fashion industry is still growing but has made significant strides. Platforms like LFDW have done a lot to put Nigerian designers and African fashion on the map.

In its sixth year, LFDW has only gotten better. I’m already excited for next year’s! From the media coverage to the fashionable personalities, it is clear that Nigerians are determined to spark a dialogue with the world about what it means to be modern, African and fabulous and that is something I can fully get on board with. Just like its theme suggests, LFDW connected all the beautiful dots of creativity and put it all in a show that we can be proud of.


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