Words Helen Jennings, Sabrina Henry Pictured Bestow Elan
"Live fast. Die young. Bad girls do it well." M.I.A’s mantra, which has rang out in many shows this week, seemed especially fitting for Ghanaian twins Kastle Design And Treasure Chest whose insy winsy shimmering dresses clung in all the right places. Aminat wore a long bluey-black gown with a sting in its tail at this first show of the day in the ARISE tent.
Vonne Couture showed an all black satin range of dresses and separates worn with fedoras, while Viv La Resistance opted for pillar-box hats and tie dye jersey dresses and loose suits in a broad spectrum of candy and neon shades.
British Ghanaian Erzumah Ackerson designer of Bestow Elan opted for a 1950s feel with her range of capri pants, sheaths, bustle skirts and a belted wool jacket with a plaited collar. Her signature dress/jumpsuit hybrid came in an intergalactic print on black silk.
Fellow Ghanaian Titi Ademola of Kiki Clothing showed several white cotton wrap and cocoon dresses with huge wax print sleeves and handkerchief hemlines.
Grey, a young Nigerian label whose motto is ‘Be Happy’ took an unusually dour theme for its autumn/winter 2012 collection – the tragedy of love – expressed through a dark colour palette and criss-cross print with the odd shot of hot orange. Going from daywear through to evening, consistency was kept through the use of pleating and weaving elements on swing tops, baby doll dresses and full skirts.
Nigeria’s Nkwo Onwuka looked to Native American Indian ways of dressing for her collection of black and clay tie-dye jersey twist dresses and baggy trousers with beaded fringing, woollen cobweb coats and cloaked dresses, feathered shorts and gold armlets.
Uganda’s Gloria Wavamunno got fresh with her early 1980s stone-wash denim jackets and skirts, and asymmetric shirts with triangle wax print appliqué. Wear it all to look like Molly Ringwald in a John Hughes movie.
Duaba Serwa by Ghana’s Nelly Aboagye showed off a passion for knock em dead dresses. Favourite of all was the first: a black and white striped off the shoulder column dress with a bow back and big gold buttons. Something about it said ‘Hello Sailor!”
Koke did Botswana proud with key pieces such as a red felt belted blanket dress covered in oversized eyelets and a gold sequined gladiator gown. Funlayo Deri’s pretty cocktail dresses were made from lemon and grey printed chiffon or black velvet panelled with navy chain mail lace.
For The Vessel. By Lois, Lois Samuels ventured from sea to turf throughout her traditionally tailored presentation. At first, references to 1930s Chanel came through in resort-style culottes, boxy jackets and straw hats. Later the Jamaican designer lent more toward equestrian influences, which showed themselves in a long and lean tailcoat with a single gold button and a button-up maid´s dress. A beautiful show that closed the programme in the ARISE Tent for another year.
As night fell, the audience flooded out to preen themselves for the finale shows and the ARISE Magazine Fashion Awards. By 9pm the GT Bank tent was on lock down with over 2,000 people packed inside.
Telfar got the party started with his high NRG collection that combined and reversed traditional textures and silhouettes to create a casual but considered take on urban sportswear. Sheepskin coats featured quilted flannel, and denim jackets were panelled with wool. Sweatshirts resembled hooded gillets, khaki pants were made from a denim-effect jersey, and a halterneck airtex baseball top hung low at the back.
Local legends the Okunoren Twins (Taiwo and Kehinde) put on a piece of sheer theatre for their latest collection, The Global African. First violinists begin to play as two models appeared in white robes bearing bowls of fruit as if a renaissance banquet was about to begin. Then we were drawn into One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest territory as AMFW stylist Lyall Hakaraia, wearing a kimono, pushed a wheelchair with a cigar-smoking Johnnie Sapong (AMFW hairstylist) sat in it. Next a model pushed a bicycle along with a baby boy riding in the child’s seat. As soon as the child saw the masses of people and bright lights he bursts into sobs, eliciting coos of sympathy on all sides. Dudley came out bare chested, screaming and holding the antlers of a deer’s head. And Big Brother Nigeria winner Uti held a bear’s claw. Between all of that, there were also some sharp suits.
Petrou/Man aka Nicolas Petrou brought post punks, skinheads and mods together for a riot of radical tribalism. His male models had their eyebrows painted a menacing shade of red and strode out in trapper caps, tapered trousers, bovver boots, patchwork duffel coats, shawl-style cardigans and short jackets in tie dye, houndstooth, leather and sports fabrics.
Lisa Folawiyo introduced some new couture silhouettes into her collection while retaining the quintessential Jewel by Lisa rocker-girl attitude. Entitled There's Something About A Lady… she kept to a subdued colour palette of creamy blue, rich green, golden tan, gunmetal and maroon and played with pinstripes on 1920s styles such as tunics with underskirts and coat dresses. More please.
Frank Osodi for Bunor Creazioni went for sugar and spice and all things nice on his candy-coloured cocktail dresses. A veteran Nigerian designer, he gave his home crowd a ruffled and sequined fairytale.
AMFW 2011 Designers of the Year KLûK CGDT made a triumphant return to Lagos with a Tudor-style range of pure and virginal looks. Choir music played as models wearing their sumptuous, extravagant gowns with balloon hems, delicately placed lace appliqué and quivering feathers slowly walked by. The last look engulfed the model in a giant white pom pom.
A musical interlude was supplied by up and coming Ghanaian artist Efya, who sang an acoustic version of her track Decepticon. Her jazzy Twi scatting and dulcet tones delivered us perfectly into the final show of AMFW. The one we’d all been waiting for. Mr Ozwald Boateng. As is his customary style, his highly choreographed show paired men and looks together with models coming out in formation. The Japan-influenced collection avoided all gimmicks and focused entirely on what Boateng does best: damn good suits. The man himself then did a full lap of honour waving a wicker fan.
On that note, it was time for the ARISE Magazine Fashion Awards…