Lagos Fashion Week: Day 1

12272748_10205008023098008_2038168942_nLagos has taken centre stage once again in a showcase of Africa’s finest talents. The show started as it meant to go on: a true tour de force.

This month, the world of fashion was treated to the spectacular creations of African designers. The show, hosted by Nigeria’s creative capital, was a refreshing and necessary spotlight on the often overshadowed African industry.

Bursting with innovation, Lagos Fashion and Design Week stunned all with its collections. Although it was impressive creatively, it is, perhaps, conceptually that the show thrived.

The theme of reinvention is one that characterised the runway as designers toyed with the concept of the neo-African. Traditional cuts and prints from the admirably vibrant continent were reimagined through the eyes of modernity.

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One of the most prominent examples is the reinvented suit. From pinstripes to oversized collars, aspects of classic workwear featured widely across collections. This, along with hoodies, bombers and duffels aided in the recreation of city chic.

Day one’s city chic, however, had distinct gritty sophistication. This is an oxymoron that could only refer to the glorious cities under the sun. The runway received an injection of new life; the life of the African city.

12270424_10205008025498068_2118394061_nThe city theme was particularly evident in the menswear collections, as high-fashion modernity was embraced yet again. The reinvention of the African man seemed a widespread statement of the show, with one poignant moment being the display of POC’s grand collection.

POC’s collection contained only black and white in its colour palette, and as the monochrome men devoured the runway, all eyes were drawn to the striking gladiator sandals and geometric garments.

Design house Maxivive admirably converged the old and the new, using traditional West African styles, such as the popular dashiki, and pairing them with modern cuts, materials and colours.

The Maxivive collection also featured jumpsuits and dungaree dresses, which are styles infrequently seen in menswear collections. The show characterised the African man as daring, striking and innovative and it is this nonconformity to expectations that LFDW has been so internationally lauded for.

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A final theme that took centre stage was femininity, or, as it has been called, hyper-femininity. As menswear deconstructed its limiting past of suits and sportswear, it appears that women’s fashion largely executed the opposite.

Classic ‘femininity’ was celebrated on the runway of LFDW with the familiar embracing of chiffon, applique and peplum flounce. Mo’Fari’s collection was almost satirically reminiscent of Moschino’s Barbie takeover during Milan Fashion Week 2014.

What the designers at LFDW demonstrated was the skill of presenting traditionally ‘feminine’ styles without being limited to them. Diversity in design still exists. As Day one showcased, a spectrum of traditionally ‘masculine’, traditionally ‘feminine’ and all the neutralities outside and in between can coexist on the runway.

This is a triumph for such a historically gender-biased industry.