Nigerian designer Maki Oh flew the flag for the country as she debuted her SS19 collection at NYFW and it was one of her best yet.
Maki Oh, run by creative director Amaka Osakwe, has shown consistently at New York Fashion week and represents the upper echelon of Nigerian fashion and design.
Maki Oh posted the invite to her show called 'Buka Special' which was inspired by the many buka restaurants that are dotted throughout Lagos, offering our favourite local delicacies. Perhaps it as a foreshadowing of Maki intending to give us all of our faves in one collection. According to Vogue magazine, Osakwe drew inspiration from, 'hand-packaged street food for the knotting and wrapping techniques that cinched traditional caftans in the most flattering places.'
Maki didn't stray far from her hand-dyed adire prints which have now become somewhat of a signature yet brought a playful and sensual flair to the age old fabric.
Vogue magazine were in attendance and waxed lyrical about Maki Oh's return to form. Writing about the show, Chioma Nnadi wrote:
There are more foodies working in fashion than you’d think. Maki Oh designer Amaka Osakwe is one of them. The inspiration for her latest collection came from hanging out at hole-in-the-wall joints known as bukas in Lagos, Nigeria, Osakwe’s hometown. “They’re usually run by women. And there is a funny saying that the women who are sweating the most make the best food!” she said cackling.
Osakwe often uses her collections to reexamine the notion of sensuality and the nuances of the female form—vulnerable and strong. She drew inspiration from hand-packaged street food for the knotting and wrapping techniques that cinched traditional caftans in the most flattering places. There was a welcome sense of lightness injected to the clothing, and tank dresses were trimmed with transparent mesh. Her tees were also spliced with mesh panels and featured graphics that were quite literally swiped from the menu. “Those prices were on a chalkboard yesterday,” she said.
Hand-dyed indigo prints, known as Adire in Nigeria, have always been Maki Oh’s secret sauce. This season she’s expanding the scope of her production capabilities with the help of Ogun State, the region where these ancient traditions originated. And that opens up the potential for exponential business growth. Though Osakwe has put race front and center with the all-black castings of her shows, today was the first time that she represented gender fluidity—still a very taboo subject in Nigeria—on her runway. Gorgeous model Richie Shazam, who identifies as nonbinary, was among the new faces in the lineup. “There are so many different colorful characters to observe on the scene, it’s a real slice of life,” she says. “It was important for me to celebrate the full spectrum of society—after all we all breathe the same air, eat the same food.” Though Osawke has made reviving ancient fashion traditions her priority, she’s clearly committed to pushing the conversation around gender forward, too.