ARISE: NIGERIAN FASHION WEEK

ARISE: Nigerian Fashion Week
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ARISE: NIGERIAN FASHION WEEK



Written by Kate Kelsall
05 Monday 05th March 2012

The past five years has seen exponential acceleration in African fashion forwardness, with a wealth of designers now fit to contend with the biggest names in the industry. The rich and varied heritage in textiles and pattern printing across the continent, teamed with the last decade’s economic progress and shifting opinions regarding the status of artistic professions has led to an explosion of creativity.

Western designers sourcing and referencing trends from African culture in albeit slightly clichéd and reductive forms, has been a staple sight on the catwalk for many a bygone season ever since Algerian-born Yves Saint Laurent brought tribal patterns to mainstream audiences. Since then it has trickled down as far as Topshop.
 
Many of Vivienne Westwood's past collections have sought inspiration from vibrant African fabrics, and last year she collaborated with the Ethical Fashion Program to bring out a range of bags created by, and supporting Kenyan producers. However it is only in recent years that African designers have began to reclaim traditional practises such as Batik, modernising and making it their own on an international stage.
 
Meanwhile on the streets of cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos and Accra, the young and bold have been developing a style which fuses loud tribal prints and Western nineties sportswear to fun and irreverent effect.
 
ARISE is a truly global brand – a glossy, large format magazine sold in 20 different countries and showcasing all that is African from politics, arts and culture through to music and fashion. Commingling Afrocentric topics and subjects with pieces on artists and musicians of African descent and with international renown like Jay-Z, has helped spread news of smaller enterprises to a worldwide audience.
Having already staged fashion weeks in a whole host of chic cities including New York, ARISE threw its first fashion week on home turf in Lagos last year. This year it’s back, bigger and better with 77 designers from six different continents.
 
The week is sure to cement Nigeria’s position as fashion savvy cultural centre of the continent, alongside South Africa, who will also be hosting a fashion week in Jo'burg from 7-11th March, endorsed by outside foreign investment from Mercedes Benz. Here’s a quick who’s who of some of the trailblazers set to tear up the ARISE runways next week.
 
Fresh talent, Nigerian born  Buki Akib graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2010 and makes edgy men’s knitwear that is steeped in the music and cultural environment of Lagos. Splicing vibrant wax printing and Yuroba hand woven textiles with traditional knitting techniques, and inspired by the energy of Lagos, her garments are outlandishly colourful, intrinsically playful and yet thoroughly masculine.
Another designer keen to preserve tradition by producing consistently surprising and cutting edge adaptations of classical African designs is Maki Oh, who utilizes the dying method of ‘Adire’. The 2012 Collection is inspired by Matisse’s ‘Fauvism’ - a clever cross cultural reference to Western admiration of the strong colours and implicit passion of so-called ‘primitive’ art. Working with luxe fabrics (silk, chiffon and velvet), Maki Oh, like Matisse before her, shocks with robustly angular and geometric designs that remain essentially feminine. Her dresses are ultimately intensely seductive and unique.
Last year’s winner of African Fashion International Designer of the Year, Jewel by Lisa also focuses on luxury womenswear. Her SS2012 collection harks back to Nigeria of the 50s and 60s, eras characterised by independence and cultural liberation in Lagos. Using vintage fabric in an ingenious twist, designs take signature west African menswear staples such as the Agbada – a wide sleeved robe worn across much of the region – and use their iconic silhouettes to create elegant and original evening wear.
 
The Okunoren Twins, Nigerian brothers create bespoke men’s tailoring that is as sharp as it is imaginative and out of the ordinary.
For a touch of loud, proud East African colour and cool, Chichia London, is a Tanzanian label based in London. Working in jersey, the clothing they produce is both wearable and affordable. Everyday basics are given that extra verve, through exuberant patterns (the SS2012 collection uses predominantly sumptuous hues of blue and yellow) and the overall look is youthful and fun.
 
AMFW is held in Lagos 6th-11th March. For more on the future of African fashion, editor of ARISE Helen Jennings has published a sleek coffee table book - New African Fashion.
table book compounding New African Fashion last year.The past five years has seen exponential acceleration in African fashion forwardness, with
a wealth of designers now fit to contend with the biggest names in the industry. The rich
and varied heritage in textiles and pattern printing across the continent, teamed with the last
decade’s economic progress and shifting opinions regarding the status of artistic professions,
has led to an explosion of creativity.
 
Western designers sourcing and referencing trends from African culture in albeit slightly
clichéd and reductive forms, has been a staple sight on the catwalk for many a bygone season.
It is only in recent years that African designers have began to reclaim traditional practises
such as Batik, modernising and making it their own on an international stage.
 
Meanwhile on the streets of cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos and Accra, the
young and bold have been developing a style which fuses loud tribal prints and Western
nineties sportswear to fun and irreverent effect.
 
ARISE is a truly global brand – a glossy, large format magazine sold in 20 different countries
and showcasing all that is African from politics, arts and culture through to music and
fashion. Commingling Afrocentric topics and subjects with pieces on artists and musicians of
African descent and with international renown like Jay-Z, has helped spread news of smaller
enterprises to a worldwide audience.
 
Having already staged fashion weeks in a whole host of chic cities including New York,
ARISE threw its first fashion week on home turf in Lagos last year. This year it’s back,
bigger and better with 77 designers from 6 different continents.
 
The week is sure to cement Nigeria’s position as fashion savvy cultural centre of the
continent, alongside South Africa, who will also be hosting a fashion week in Joburg from
the 7th-11th March, endorsed by outside foreign investment from Mercedes Benz. Here’s a quick
who’s who of some of the trailblazers set to tear up the ARISE runways next week.
 
Fresh talent, Nigerian born Buki Akib graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2010 and
makes edgy men’s knitwear that is steeped in the music and cultural environment of Lagos.
Splicing vibrant wax printing and Yuroba hand woven textiles with traditional knitting
techniques, and inspired by the energy of Lagos, her garments are outlandishly colourful,
intrinsically playful and yet thoroughly masculine.
 
Another designer keen to preserve tradition by producing consistently surprising and
cutting edge adaptations of classical African designs is Maki Oh, who utilizes the dying
method of ‘Adire’. The 2012 Collection is inspired by Matisse’s ‘Fauvism’ - a clever
cross cultural reference to Western admiration of the strong colours and implicit passion
of so-called ‘primitive’ art. Working with luxe fabrics (silk, chiffon and velvet), Maki Oh,
like Matisse before her, shocks with robustly angular and geometric designs that remain
 
essentially feminine. Her dresses are ultimately intensely seductive and unique.
 
Last year’s winner of African Fashion International Designer of the Year, Jewel by Lisa
also focuses on luxury Womenswear. Her SS2012 collection harks back to Nigeria of the 50s
and 60s – eras characterised by independence and cultural liberation. Using vintage fabrics
in an ingenious twist, designs take signature African menswear staples such as the Agbada
– a wide sleeved robe worn across much of West Africa – and use their iconic silhouettes to
create elegant and original evening wear.
 
The Okunoren Twins, Nigerian brothers create bespoke men’s tailoring that is as sharp as it
is imaginative and out of the ordinary.
 
For a touch of loud, proud East African colour and cool, Chichia London, is a Tanzanian
label based in London. Working in jersey, the clothing they produce is both wearable and
affordable. Everyday basics are given that extra verve, through exuberant patterns (the
SS2012 collection uses predominantly sumptuous hues of blue and yellow) and the overall
look is youthful and fun.
 
Helen Jennings, the editor of ARISE since its inception in 2008, published a stylish coffee
table book compounding New African Fashion last year.
Fashion Week (AMFW) around the corner, we investigate reasons behind the recent boom
and take a look at some designers who are putting the continent on the map.
 
The past five years has seen exponential acceleration in African fashion forwardness, with
a wealth of designers now fit to contend with the biggest names in the industry. The rich
and varied heritage in textiles and pattern printing across the continent, teamed with the last
decade’s economic progress and shifting opinions regarding the status of artistic professions,
has led to an explosion of creativity.
 
Western designers sourcing and referencing trends from African culture in albeit slightly
clichéd and reductive forms, has been a staple sight on the catwalk for many a bygone season.
It is only in recent years that African designers have began to reclaim traditional practises
such as Batik, modernising and making it their own on an international stage.
 
Meanwhile on the streets of cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos and Accra, the
young and bold have been developing a style which fuses loud tribal prints and Western
nineties sportswear to fun and irreverent effect.
 
ARISE is a truly global brand – a glossy, large format magazine sold in 20 different countries
and showcasing all that is African from politics, arts and culture through to music and
fashion. Commingling Afrocentric topics and subjects with pieces on artists and musicians of
African descent and with international renown like Jay-Z, has helped spread news of smaller
enterprises to a worldwide audience.
 
Having already staged fashion weeks in a whole host of chic cities including New York,
ARISE threw its first fashion week on home turf in Lagos last year. This year it’s back,
bigger and better with 77 designers from 6 different continents.
 
The week is sure to cement Nigeria’s position as fashion savvy cultural centre of the
continent, alongside South Africa, who will also be hosting a fashion week in Joburg from
the 7th-11th March, endorsed by outside foreign investment from Mercedes Benz. Here’s a quick
who’s who of some of the trailblazers set to tear up the ARISE runways next week.
 
Fresh talent, Nigerian born Buki Akib graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2010 and
makes edgy men’s knitwear that is steeped in the music and cultural environment of Lagos.
Splicing vibrant wax printing and Yuroba hand woven textiles with traditional knitting
techniques, and inspired by the energy of Lagos, her garments are outlandishly colourful,
intrinsically playful and yet thoroughly masculine.
 
Another designer keen to preserve tradition by producing consistently surprising and
cutting edge adaptations of classical African designs is Maki Oh, who utilizes the dying
method of ‘Adire’. The 2012 Collection is inspired by Matisse’s ‘Fauvism’ - a clever
cross cultural reference to Western admiration of the strong colours and implicit passion
of so-called ‘primitive’ art. Working with luxe fabrics (silk, chiffon and velvet), Maki Oh,
like Matisse before her, shocks with robustly angular and geometric designs that remain
 
essentially feminine. Her dresses are ultimately intensely seductive and unique.
 
Last year’s winner of African Fashion International Designer of the Year, Jewel by Lisa
also focuses on luxury Womenswear. Her SS2012 collection harks back to Nigeria of the 50s
and 60s – eras characterised by independence and cultural liberation. Using vintage fabrics
in an ingenious twist, designs take signature African menswear staples such as the Agbada
– a wide sleeved robe worn across much of West Africa – and use their iconic silhouettes to
create elegant and original evening wear.
 
The Okunoren Twins, Nigerian brothers create bespoke men’s tailoring that is as sharp as it
is imaginative and out of the ordinary.
 
For a touch of loud, proud East African colour and cool, Chichia London, is a Tanzanian
label based in London. Working in jersey, the clothing they produce is both wearable and
affordable. Everyday basics are given that extra verve, through exuberant patterns (the
SS2012 collection uses predominantly sumptuous hues of blue and yellow) and the overall
look is youthful and fun.
 
Helen Jennings, the editor of ARISE since its inception in 2008, published a stylish coffee
table book compounding New African Fashion last year.

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