Hi #BellaStylistas,

It’s Mary Edoro here! I have just returned from a fun, fashion trip to Dubai. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an interesting edition of the highly anticipated ARISE Fashion Week 2021.

Mary Edoro

This being the organization’s first show in 2021, the team decided to take our amazing Nigerian designers to the United Arab Emirates for a special ARISE Fashion Weekend which was held in collaboration with the Nigerian Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 and the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment.

For this event, the ARISE team invited various political and industrial dignitaries from Nigeria and their counterparts in the UAE alongside key fashion industry insiders including myself for the one-day show. Right from the flight on AirPeace’s new Boeing 777 airplane, surrounded by models, stylists, photographers, leading people in media, and armed with my African Fashion Foundation x Orange Culture tote bag I knew it was going to be a memorable trip.

Watch my highlights of the flight below

The main focus for this year’s edition in Dubai was the amplification of Nigerian design talents on a global stage. There was no better time than now at the peak of the Dubai Expo. So far, Expo 2020 has recorded over 2 million visits since its grand opening on the 1st of October.

Coming on the heels of the ARISE 30 Under 30 fashion competition which closed with a $100,000 cash prize awarded to Kenneth Ize, the organization aims to deal with varied representation and develop solutions for global inclusion, by identifying and acknowledging cutting-edge Nigerian creatives in fashion. This one-day show was no doubt a celebration of African brilliance with awe-inspiring runway collections and exclusive designer displays.

We were up bright and early at the IBIS Hotel on Friday morning for a full day of FASHION!. Over croissants and coffee, I had an insightful conversation with former ThisDay Style Editor Latasha Ngwube.

Right after breakfast, I felt the pre-show excitement in the air as I saw the models getting geared up. A few hours before showtime, I went backstage to watch model rehearsals, last-minute fittings, makeup, and all the BTS action – the anticipation was palpable.

Fittings for Kenneth Ize
Banke Kuku’s relaxed silhouette
Prints, Prints, PRINTS from Ziva Lagos
Beaded accessories from Lisa Folawiyo Studio

Makeup Corner

Pre-show with Lehlé Balde, Timi Dakolo, Latasha Ngwube, Ozinna Anumudu & Myself

The event started with the Nigerian anthem and a welcome address by the founding Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the THISDAY Media Group and ARISE News Channel, Nduka Obaigbena. This was followed by a speech by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Niyi Adebayo who represented Nigeria’s President Mohammed Buhari. In his welcome address, Nduka Obaigbena stressed that the time of Nigeria is here.

After the speeches, designers including Banke Kuku, Yutee Rone, Onalaja, Hudayya, Ziva Lagos, Lanre DaSilva Ajayi, Lisa Folawiyo Studio, Kenneth Ize, and Odio Mimonet – took the stage to showcase their latest collections with a stunning backdrop of the famous Burj Khalifa while Afrobeat music and cultural sounds serenaded the models strutting the runway.

For both fashion enthusiasts and key stakeholders, a high point was watching Supermodel Naomi Campbell wearing Nigerian designs and doing what she does best – catwalk!

PS: #BellaStylistas, ICYMI I interviewed Naomi in Lagos during her first ARISE Fashion Week appearance – yup! Read all about it here.

What I Wore

I have been in a love affair with the purple colour group lately and wanted to keep my look chic and practical. So I opted for this lavender suit from Mimi’s Kreation and paired it with a purple lace mesh top and strappy sandals. I think my look was a hit – what do you think?


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The looks from designers fit in perfectly with the metropolitan features of Dubai – skylines and city lights were complimentary embellishments to the runway offerings and enhanced the ambiance of the evening. As expected there were well-known names that showcased this year as well as an opportunity for new designers to make their mark. This included Kanyinsola Onalaja‘s Onalaja and Tania Omotayo‘s Ziva Lagos.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Ize presented us with timeless masterpieces birthed from the brand’s unique usage of handwoven fabrics. From the detailing, frayed aso-oke hems and accessories, to watching long-time supporter of the brand, Naomi Campbell waltzed down in a midi aso-oke party dress  – this was a collection meant to be experienced in person.

The detailed hand-embroidery, colours, silhouettes, and craftsmanship from Lisa Folawiyo Studio were truly incredible. I missed her solo COLL 1 2022 show earlier in October in Lagos and finally seeing the pieces up close was a real treat.

Alton Mason joined Naomi on the Banke Kuku runway, she wore an optical illusion fringed bottom bubu dress while Alton wore a Hausa babariga inspired tunic with matching pants and cap – the look became a hit trend during fashion week in Lagos.







The event rounded up with all of us dancing and grooving to some of our favourite throwback hits performed live by star musicians D’banj and Akon.

Undoubtedly, it was a beautiful experience to see Nigerian talent being appreciated and celebrated across our borders.

Special thanks to the ARISE Fashion Week team for this phenomenal opportunity.

All my updates from the event are on @bellanaijastyle #BNSatARISEFW21.

See ya real soon, in a city close to you *wink*