Peep Onalaja's feminism inspired collection at LFDW 2016

Edwin Okolo reviews Onalaja's presentation at the Heineken Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2016

The showcase highlighting chic bronze-y tones had a lot of exaggerated details for the showcase done on the day 2 of the fashion week setting tone of feminism while her models sashayed down the runway.

Edwin Okolo writes in about the showcase; "Kanyinsola Onalaja's eponymous label made it's Lagos Fashion and Design Week debut last year, and my what a way to announce yourself. Fresh off graduating from the Insituto Maragoni in England, with one collection behind her, Onalaja took apicultural elements and translated them into a collection that predicted trumpet sleeves, exaggerated ruching and extravagant circle cut skirts. When it was announced the label was showing at this year's fashion week, the question wasn't if Kanyinsola was going to outdo herself, the question was how.

And the answer,  it turns out, is Chimamanda.

The Onalaja runway was defiantly feminist, a trend we've seen womenswear designers embrace with more vigour this year than ever before, and embrace with it. The Onalaja show started with a montage of several high profile women of colour, while the TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie 'We should all be feminists' played in the background. When the first look came off the runway, worn by none else than Uju Marshall, we could see that Onalaja had taken a quantum shift from the demure florals of Spring 16. The palette was a spectrum of browns and bronzes, mimicking the different shades of black skin. Damask, Aso-oke, organza and chiffon, the label runs the spectrum of fabrics, mixing and matching them to delightful effect.

There are soft, gauzy pleated dresses, layered for emphasis and folded for texture, juxtaposed with heavy Aso-oke bustiers, with folded pleat bustlines for stark effect. It is all enhanced with metallic jewellery used sparingly in some pieces and extravagantly in others. There is a constant contrast that runs through the entire collection, matte against glossy, light against heavy, bronze against chocolate. There were a couple of filler pieces that undercut the excellence of the collection, proving that understated is not Onalaja's thing. The bathing suit worn by Funmi Akinjiola (whose runway walk is atrocious by the way) and the sleeveless blazer dresses did nothing for the collection and could have been done away with.

However it is obvious Onalaja's expertise lies with construction, the layered gauze skirt and the chocolate shift dress with jacquard sleeves and grand double pleats were miles ahead of anything else on the runway that evening. It feels almost paradoxical to say this, but Onalaja at her best is at her showiest. So go to town on us, hold nothing back.

What do you think of Onalaja's LFDW 2016 showcase?

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