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Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

The 10 Best Moments from Lagos Fashion Week 2018

A recap of the memorable designs and raw talent showcased at this year's Lagos Fashion Week.

What is Lagos without the energy?

In Africa's most populated city, vigor and vibrancy are what cultivate the energy that keeps the city bustling and thriving, despite the efforts of NEPA. That very same energy was definitely present throughout this season's fashion week shows. Afromodernism, theatrical showmanship, and celebrity appearances were some of the themes in many of the presentations, but never in lieu of genuine and raw design talent.

This curated collection of Africa's finest designers managed to keep the audience attention on a rollercoaster ride of discerning moments throughout the ongoing parade of models and garments. To help digest these moments, I've put together my top 10 from the fashion rollercoaster that was Lagos Fashion Week 2018.

Take a look below.


TOKYO JAMES' WOMENSWEAR DEBUT

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Lagos-based menswear designer Tokyo James took his first step into the realm of womenswear this fashion week with his women's collection debut—and a large step it was. The womenswear looks were jam-packed with embellished leather, masterful layering and exaggerated accessories. James' use of these style elements effectively shaped exactly who the Tokyo James woman is: a woman who is extremely chic and stylish, a bit edgy, absolutely unbothered, and definitely international. The type of woman you've always wanted to be.

EMMY KASBIT: THE YOUNG KING OF MENSWEAR

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Emmy Kasbit had an astonishingly standout menswear collection. Modern use of the traditional aso oke fabric is a prominent trend in Lagos fashion today—designers are co-opting the age-old fabric, creating and using it in brand new ways. The trend, interestingly enough, hasn't quite cracked the menswear scene, until Emmy Okoro. With this collection, he tastefully twisted the coveted fabric and created the most modern of silhouettes. His SS19 collection, filled with amazing tailoring, great colors and unique cuts, not only attests to his ability to modernize this traditional fabric, but also his mastery over the rules of menswear—mastery enough to break those rules over and over again.

DEOLA SAGOE + CLAN: THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER FASHION EMPIRE

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Deola Sagoe is a Lagos fashion legend in her own right, but like any real legend she has poured into a successor to follow in her steps. Even better that someone is her daughter Teni Sagoe. This season Deola and Teni showed their respective collections subsequently in a beautiful mother-daughter fashion moment. While Teni tapped into British high-life fashion with elegant cuts, and extravagant fascinators, her mother took to Nigerian high-life and made it higher—using aso oke with embellishments, laser cutting, and fringe-work in ways never done before. If aso oke is the reigning trend in Lagos, many would say, "Sagoe started it."

SISIANO'S LAGOS ROMANCE

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Paolo Sisiano's presentation was one of the most impressive shows yet. As native-trained designer, you won't always hear his name amongst the list of Lagos' popular designers, but with his SS19 showing, he has earned his presence among Lagos' most fashion elite. His collection was an absolutely stunning display of romance, color and pure skill over drapery and fabric movement. It was clear this collection was a portrayal of himself as the garments moved with grace down the runway. The lovely designs were a truly a refreshing palate cleanser amidst other typical Nigerian fashion moments.

MAI ATAFO: SON OF THE SOIL

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Mai Atafo is a true son of the soil. You could feel the excitement for Atafo's show permeating the air as his segment got closer. And even with such anticipation, he did not disappoint. Mai's military-inspired collection, serenaded by an uber-talented violinist/model had the crowd beaming in excitement and provided the level of showmanship Lagosians have come to expect of a brand of his stature. The sophisticated take on Nigerian military wear was a true show of his place as a fashion veteran. The only thing that successfully held its own against his amazing collection in the battle for attention, was his beautiful daughter who effectively stole the show when she joined him in his designer finale walk.

STUDIO 189: ACCRA ENERGY

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Speaking of beaming and refreshing energy, Studio 189's show was filled with it. Lagosians can often take themselves too seriously, so when Studio 189's models, clad in wildly colorful sustainable designs and sneakers, took to the runway to a makossa track there was a clear shift in energy. You could even spy some of Lagos' all too serious fashion guests fighting their urge to dance in their seats. The CFDA-awarded designer provided a vibrant array of print-heavy designs to accompany their dance-inducing soundtrack, serving the crowd a much-needed pick-me-up, one look at a time.

RICH MNISI

Photo by Simon Deiner.

Photo by Simon Deiner.

Photo by Simon Deiner.

South African-based, Lagos newcomer Rich Mnisi managed to stand out amongst Lagos' array of veteran designers by tapping into a trend that we're seeing worldwide from top designers like Hedi Slimane, Marc Jacobs, and Moschino—80s glam. You don't often see decade inspired-designs coming out of Africa, which was something that made Mnisi's collection stand apart from those same Lagos vets. Mnisi was able to make this trend all his own—and distinctively African—through his use of pattern and color-play, proving we can only expect to see more and more of him.

THE EVOLUTION OF MAXHOSA BY LADUMA

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Although only starting in 2011, MAXHOSA by Laduma established itself as a prominent African brand quite early on with its monopoly of African-inspired printed knitwear. With such early and constant recognition for a certain aesthetic, it can be easy to get put into a box, but not MAXHOSA. Laduma Ngxokolo, MaXhosa's head designer, took his signature knitwear to totally new levels with his SS19 collection. From his intricate knit dresses and accessories to the silk printing of his signature knit patterns, Laduma was able to elevate his brand exponentially without sacrificing his aesthetic, a feat worth accolades. This wasn't a year-over-year type of growth, this was MAXHOSA 5 to 10 years in the future.

STREET STYLE: THE FASHION HUSTLE

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Not unlike Lagos, some of the best fashion was off the runway. The LFW guests showed up and showed out to the fashion week grounds everyday, hours before the shows even began, to show off their looks and vie for the attention of the street style photographers. Many of the best were young, up-and-coming designers themselves, hoping to share their personal brands through their own sartorial efforts. Like everything else in the city, fashion is a hustle and no holds were barred.

THE MAIN EVENT: ORANGE CULTURE

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

The only other time that the tension in the air felt suffocatingly tangible were in the moments surrounding Adebayo Oke-Lawal's Orange Culture presentation. In the moments leading up to his show, it was clear that this was the main event and there was high anticipation for him and the success of his collection. Funny enough, despite the alarming amount of pressure, even until seconds before his show Oke-Lawal kept a surprisingly lighthearted disposition. And as expected of one with such a calm and confident air amidst a cloud of expectations and anxiety, he delivered. His collection, entitled Orange Moon, was not only a display of impeccably eclectic fashion, but a political statement against Nigerian societal ideologies. With it's Handmaid's Tale styled bonnets, Adebayo's Orange Moon was a statement to societal oppression in Nigeria and the persecution that makes many of its citizens feel the need to lead a double life—like night and day, or sun and moon. This type of political statement dressed in strikingly beautiful garments is how Orange Culture lived up to the hype and his well-deserved spot as the finale of Lagos Fashion Week.

Bonus: FALANA at ORANGE CULTURE FINALE

Photo by Kola Oshalusi.

After being shaken up by Orange Culture's collection we were serenading by the angelic voice of one of Lagos' favorite fashion front row-ers, Falana, as she belted an a cappella rendition of her unreleased single, "Repeat," as the models marched out in their final foray. I've heard Falana tracks before, but hearing her in person really solidified her sheer-star power and has me eagerly awaiting her 2019 EP.

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Still from "Kasala!"

Meet The Nigerian New Wave Director Behind the Film 'Kasala!'

One of Naija cinema's new wave, Ema Edosio talks about what it took to film her exciting new film in the streets of Lagos.

Ema Edosio is the director of "Kasala", a comedy set in present day Lagos and centers on the lives of four young men who go on a joyride to a party in a Honda Accord one of them has taken from his boss Taju without permission. Their evening is ruined when one of them crashes Taju's Honda breaking the windscreen and denting the car's body. With just four hours before Taju returns home, all four boys hustle around Lagos to raise money for the car repair.

Taju, who is a struggling butcher, is faced with a big problem of his own: his debtor has just given him an ultimatum to pay back money he's long owed. Bitter and frustrated, Taju's retribution will be double-fold, if he returns home to find his Honda is damaged. The four friends do not need more another reason to expect the worse from Taju if they're not able to fix his Honda before gets home in the next four hours.

"Kasala" is a vivid portrayal of contemporary Lagos and a riotous combination of physical comedy, inventive turns of phrases combined with fluid camera work and committed performances from some of the young and bright African acting talents.

Written by Temi Sodipo and directed by Ema Edosio—who is also the cinematographer and editor—"Kasala" was chosen for the closing gala of the 2018 edition of Film Africa in London this November, out of a total of 39 films from 15 countries.

Edosio flew into London for the film's UK premier at the Rich Mix cinema to a largely pan-African crowd who lapped up the rollicking comedy. Ahead of her trip to the UK, Okay Africa spoke to Edosio about her debut feature, the joys and challenges of shooting on location in Lagos and the rise of Nigeria's so called "Naija New Wave" cinema.

Photo courtesy of Ema Edosio


The fast pace and energy in Kasala is constant all through the film. Was this a deliberate injection or did it come as a result of the writing?

I worked as a video journalist for the BBC and I would go into the streets of Lagos to film, and I would see everything that made Lagos what it is: the traffic, the smell, the dirt, the vibe, the energy, the people. And I wanted to make a story that is authentic and that is the reason why I decided to make Kasala this way.

All the four friends and main characters jell naturally it would seem. How did you get them to work well together?

When I conceived of the film, I knew that I didn't want to work with any "known" faces. I knew that I wanted unknown actors. So I put out an audition call and these boys worked into the room and I told them to read together. And immediately it was like magic.

Why do you think they're largely unknown to the majority of Nigerian movie watching audience?

I think one of the reasons is there's not a lot of movies written about young people. Most of the scripts are for a certain kind of male character: the superhero who goes to save the damsel in distress, and the hunk and a lot of roles are not written for these amazing actors and that's why they're largely unknown.

Tomiwa Tegbe who plays "Effiong" is a good comic actor and has been in "On The Real (Ebony Life TV)" and "Shuga (MTV)". What does Kasala bring out in Tomiwa Tegbe that these other directors and film material that do not?

The thing that made Tomiwa Tegbe and the rest stand out in Kasala is that I gave them freedom to act and I wasn't micromanaging them. They became very comfortable in order to do their best to the film.

The cast as a whole is largely new and young with Jide Kosoko easily the most experienced. Why did you cast him for the role and not yet another "unknown" face?

The reason is I couldn't afford to hire known faces to work in the film and I honestly didn't have the budget. I [also] wanted to bring in a sense of familiarity and that is why I got Jide Kosoko. Even though they're guys are unknown, and they're are fantastic "here is someone you know who is in this movie playing with these amazing actors" which is why I worked with Jide Kosoko.

The different locations in the film are those of back corners, mechanic garages, meat market, communal flats most of which have the red and brown of rust and decay gives the cinematography a visual harmony. How much attention did you give to finding the right locations?

I think I made Kasala with a vengeance. I've had the privilege to work with Ebonylife tv which was beautiful but Kasala kept pulling me in: the people I met in the streets, the things I'd done on the streets of Lagos, the visual aesthetic kept pulling and I decided to make that. I wanted to see Lagos, I wanted to see barbwires. I wanted to see gutters, I wanted to see the people. I knew that the location was a character on its own. And I wanted to be able to find the right location that would be able to represent that boys and the lives they live in Lagos. I'm forever grateful for the people there who let us film there.

Your camera adopts the often frenetic pace of the film and is rarely still for long. Why this visual approach?

I'm very influenced by Guy Ritchie, Edgar Wright, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. And I would always say to myself that "these characters in their films can be Nigerians". I think that the camera should be fluid, breathe, move with the audience showing us "oh yeah this is a wide, oh yeah this is a close up". My influence by these directors was what I put into Kasala. And this is what made the film dynamic.

Are there any interesting, unplanned events during shooting which you could share with our readers?

Shooting in Lagos is one of the hardest thing to do. You have these agberos [louts] who come to you and literally want to take your equipment. I went with a very small crew and I'm very petite and they would see me and say "who is this small girl? She doesn't have money. Leave her alone, let her shoot". I started bringing them into the film to act and it was very beautiful seeing them react to it. One of the most interesting things is the children in the estates [on location] who act in the film, the joy and the playfulness. In some ways we brought back some joy and some fun into the neighbourhood.


Still from "Kasala!"

Did you worry much about what may be lost to foreign audiences who may not be clued up the pidgin English and "Nigerianisms" used in the film?

You can't come to Lagos and make a film about the slum in English. I felt like the pidgin English was as important as the location. My mind was not about where the foreign audience would accept it or whatever. My mind was "how do I make a film that is authentic to Nigeria? How do I make a film that would show of Lagos?" It would do no justice to use English.

Who are the other key players in Nigeria's "nu wave" film and tv you would like to highlight?

When you talk about new wave key players you're talking about Abba Makama whose film "Green White Green" inspired me to make "Kasala". CJ SeriObasi, ImoEmoren, Jade Sholat Siberi, Kemi Adetiba. So many new directors are springing out nollywood. And they're new directors making amazing stuff. I'm really really excited about the future.

How did you raise the funding needed to make "Kasala"?

When I wanted to make Kasala, it was not the kind of story people would fund. I decided in order to bring this story to live, to use the skills I'd gained over the years—to produce, direct, shoot and edit. Not because I wanted to be in control, because I didn't have the budget. That is the sport of new director coming in now. We're fighting against all odds and it is now beginning to be clear that it's way beyond nollywood. Kasala has been to over 20 international festivals and counting. And there an audience for our films, there's an audience for our voices.

What are you expectations for it at the festival?

I really don't know what to expect. I just hope that they love the film. For the Nigerians in the diaspora,I hope that it brings back memories of Lagos. For black people I hope it gives them a sense of how we are back home to help them connect with us as Africans. For the foreign audience I hope that they see a Nigeria of passion, of community, of tenacity, of brotherhood of love.

"Kasala" will be released worldwide on December 7th

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Indomie: Unpacking a Nigerian Tradition

What does Nigeria's way of preparing this beloved brand of instant noodles say about the country as a whole?

Before I came to Lagos in September to begin a collaborative performance project, I imagined all the ways the place would challenge all I had read and heard about it, and all the ways it might remind me of my home, Trinidad and Tobago. Of all the kernels of similarities I've encountered so far, Indomie is perhaps the most intriguing.

Indomie, a brand of instant noodles originating in Indonesia, has become the household name for all instant ramen noodles in Nigeria.

As a child, I would make Top Ramen, but ours was far less intentionally adorned. I had never seen anyone add anything but Golden Ray. I would try to be fancy with my own and add eggs, but they never quite attained Naruto ramen standards.

Indomie was my first meal in Nigeria. I had arrived in Lagos about two hours earlier. In those two hours I had seen something of the character of the city. In the midst of the clouds of dust and engine exhaust fumes I saw a woman almost fall out the car she was getting into, I saw men sitting atop a truck, like wrinkles in the night sky fabric, I saw selling, so much selling and buying and haggling. It seemed to me that everything was happening here.

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Fela Kuti's 'Zombie' Is Coming Out On Limited Edition 8-Track

"Zombie" and "Mr. Follow Follow" are available in the nostalgic 8-track cartridge.

"Zombie," Fela Kuti's 1976 protest anthem and scathing attack on the Nigerian military, is getting an 8-track re-release.

Knitting Factory Records, Kalakuta Sunrise and Partisan Records have made 300 limited editions copies of Zombie/Mr. Follow Follow which you can pre-order now ahead of its December 7 release.

Fela Kuti's classic song uses zombies as a metaphor for soldiers mindlessly following orders. The song is thought to have triggered the Nigerian government's horrific assault on the Kalakuta Republic, in which the compound burned to the ground, Fela was brutally beaten and his mother, Nigerian feminist icon Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, was murdered.

You can pre-order Zombie/Mister Follow Follow on 8-track now and read more about each song from Mabinuori Kayode Idowu's text accompanying the release below.

Purchase Fela Kuti's Zombie/Mr Follow Follow on 8-Track

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