Fashion, art, creativity, identity are all things I have, over time, come to relate with Lagos, that and of course being stuck for hours in traffic. I am yet to have a time where I step my feet into the metropolitan jungle that is Lagos and don’t get an experience to remember. My most recent travel to Lagos – courtesy of the BellaNaija Style Team got me not just a pass but the all-access pass to one of the most famed annual fashion events in Lagos and West Africa – Lagos Fashion Week. Lagos Fashion Week represents everything I love about Lagos, it was the ultimate meeting point of high fashion and street style, it celebrated identity in style and encouraged out of the box thinking in how you presented yourself with clothing.
Basically, it wrapped everything Lagos meant to me in just three days. Over those three days, Lagos Fashion Week 2018 ran from 24th – 27th of October but the Day one was an exclusive dinner and attendance was strictly by invitation so though technically Lagos Fashion Week ran for four days, I honestly count only three days. I got a second-row experience to one of the biggest fashion events in the fashion capital of Africa and here are my thoughts on the street style, runway shows and what I consider to be the highlights and lowlights of the event.
If we are keeping it a buck, the street style is what many fashion enthusiasts attend fashion week for – the opportunity to showcase your unique sense of style and for the observers, like me, it is an opportunity to see the Lagosians and temporary Lagosians (those who had come into town strictly for fashion week) come out in full force and embrace and channel their unique style identities right there on the streets. For LFW 2018, I did at certain time feel that a few of the fashionistas were being performative with the looks they were pulling off because one could almost feel a disconnect between the person and their style but for the majority, you can see that what they had on was a true expression and extension of self. I was particularly intrigued by the men in attendance whose outfits blurred rigid gender walls; from the ones who interpreted classic suits in a more gender non-conforming pattern, the ones who played with colours with the seeming glee of a four-year-old, the one I saw wearing fishnets and so many more. When it comes to the street style at LFW 2018, I would say it was a success and quite an experience even though it had its low moments and I did see outfits which for a few moments confused as to exactly what was going on but I do generally appreciate the art and interpretation the attendees gave to it.
And of course, the official reason we were in attendance. I personally found a fair number of the shows to be worth the time and they had at the edge of my seat trying to see even more of the collections. At the same time I also found a few of the collections presented to be quite drab and honestly bland, it was almost like no real effort went into creating the collections which were being showcased and their finishing – from what I could see – left so much more to be desired because I remember seeing pieces that looked like they were going to come off the models if they so much as took a sharp breath and the fabric choices for quite a number of the pieces were laughable. The runway witnessed its fair share of mishaps from a nip slip or three which had the room in muted and embarrassed laughter to a fair number of the mishaps seemed to revolve around the shoes which involved a couple models tripping, trying really hard to not trip and a particular model had to walk extra slowly to avoid face planting right there and then. I am still really curious as to why this happened over and over again. My complaints may make you think that the runway of Lagos Fashion Week was horrible but that is rather far from the truth as several designers and brands like Maxivive, Orange Culture, and Mai Atafo had incredible showmanship, presentations, and covetable collections. I was quite intrigued also by Demure By Denike – this Fashion Focus finalist’s collection featured a lot of aso oke and had astounding detail to the pieces which played to African femininity and Fashion Focus winner Emmy Kasbit had the audience clapping for most of the presentation and for good reason as the palette and fabric choices were simply exquisite and were simultaneously attention-grabbing and eye-catching. Tokyo James and Fruché did their thing with impeccable designs and collections which exceeded my expectations and which triggered an ovation from the crowd. I also found a few brands like Nack and XXI to be intriguing and promising and their presentations were also quite interesting to watch. A thing which had me bothered for most of the shows was the song selections which I couldn’t help feel were mostly not cohesive with the pieces showcasing.
The ultimate highlight of Lagos Fashion Week 2018 for me was seeing the Orange Culture SS19 presentation which without a flicker of doubt scored tens across the board with their choice of fabrics, intricate cuts, eclectic pieces and an impeccable presentation which ended with artiste Falana’s sonorous voice who had me clutching my fanboy chest in awe, I couldn’t think of a better ending for LFW 2018. The Orange Culture SS19 presentation had every single person in the room intrigued from the moment artiste Odunsi walked out till the models got into formation right till the very last note Falana hit, one could easily see that it was the main event. Another highlight was the Music meet Runway moment during Mai Atafo’s SS19 presentation when talented violinist Godwin Strings had us all captivated as he strummed his violin during Mai Atafo’s presentation. Other personal highlights include seeing the ethereal photographer Yagazie Emezi walking for Maki Oh and musician Seyi Shay giving a power strut for Tokyo James
The lateness! The ultimate lowlight for me has to be that the Day Two (Day One of the runway shows) show which was slotted to start by 4 pm started five hours later and the first model walked down the runway a few minutes past 9 pm, it seemed to get better as the days went but the earliest the show started was two hours after its slotted time. A lowlight that I couldn’t bring myself to shake off was that the designers who showcased this year seemed to be a bit too familiar, I had looked forward to discovering more brands but sadly with the exception of two or three I was quite familiar with all the brands that showed this year. Is there a scarcity of new upcoming brands? Or do I keep up with way too many brands?
At the end of the day, my first time at Lagos Fashion Week was quite amazing and Lagos Fashion Week continues to live up to its name and legacy.