There are only a handful of Nigerian designers whose work is unapologetically Nigerian. There are even fewer whose work captures the contemporary lives of young millennial lagosians, looking for meaning in the chaos of Third Mainland Bridge traffic, codeswitching our way through social circles and ending our days with endless nights seeking love in it’s brightly lit watering holes. Amaka Osakwe, creative director of Nigerian design label Maki Oh is our rosetta stone. Over her six year career, she has created a storied legacy, an in of sorts for foreigners looking to embrace something other than themselves and for us, a way to wear our idiosyncrasies as proudly as the ‘Ehn’ emblazoned across silk skirts.
After showing in Lagos for a couple of years she returned in February to New York Fashion Week, where she’d shown as an ingenue a few years earlier, now a veteran with a story that cannot be denied. Maki Oh’s Fall 17 is peak Maki, with all the distinctive quirks we’ve come to expect from the brand. Vivid Adire prints, ruffling, lurex mesh and classic Nigerianisms used as legend slogans across tees and printed across skirts. While Maki’s oh stories have veered towards the esoteric in the past, this season’s collection, with the tongue-in-cheek name ‘No Dulling’ explores Lagos’s hook up culture from the perspective of a single, upwardly mobile 20-something. Yellow Danfos are represented through bright yellow blouses and striped adire pieces. Sheer shift dresses suggest the art of seduction, a post-coital haze is crystallized in duo-tone terry bathrobes and bright pink short suit suggest the hasty post-sex dash for home. The collection is decidedly younger, deliberately so.
There are subtle nods to Lagos in every piece in the ‘No Dulling‘ collection, little easter eggs that require you to have colloquial knowledge of the city and it’s people before you can really appreciate. To know Maki Oh is to know Lagos, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Amandla Baraka for Oxosi.com.