Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial party hub, is known for its booming population, intense traffic jams and vibrant movie and music scene à la Nollywood. But, as well accentuated at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week that wrapped up on Saturday, some style enthusiasts are bent on including fashion on the city’s brag sheet.
By Ayo Okulaja, Lagos
Glamour and creativity straddled the runway during the third year of this three-night event. Although renowned Nigerian fashion houses paraded their wears, up-and-comers were also given the spotlight. Twelve of them were nominated for the MTN British Council Young Designer of the Year Award.
And emerging as winner of the 4 million naira (20,000 euro) prize was 20-year-old menswear designer Joshua Udiminue. RNW got an exclusive interview with the young man, who was born and bred in Lagos and currently moonlights as a Master’s student in architecture at Convenant University.
How long have you been doing fashion?
I became “commercialized” in 2011 after I was appointed as the official costumier for the male contestants of Nigerian Idol. But prior to that, I was making and selling clothes to my classmates in school – [it was] more like a test-run for the JoshSamuels label.
I like working with lines because it gives harmony in my designs and functions. And as an architecture student, I love how angles on vertical and horizontal lines flow to achieve harmony on each of my collections.
Why is this collection called Casanova?
For me, it doesn’t mean a man that sleeps around with women, but an articulate guy who is sexy and good-looking... [H]is dressing tells one of his ambitions and focus at first glance, which is what every woman wants.
Describe your style in two words.
My design aesthetic is bold and sophisticated.
Should Nigeria – or, for that matter, Africa – prepare to see more of your work?
Definitely, and I am not just saying this for myself, but for the mainstream Nigerian fashion industry, which is very, very big and graphic right now and has seen tremendous growth in the last 10 years –just as we have seen in the music industry...
What do you have to say about the current lack of patronage of runway designs by Nigerians?
Inasmuch as a designer has to have that level of creativity, he or she must also have what I call being creative and not losing the economic value of [...] design, because they go hand in hand. We must be business-oriented as we make the clothes so that people can buy them. We have to make creativity that is marketable.
What does winning this prize mean for you and your career?
It is a serious crowning. That’s all I can say about it.
What do you plan to do with the 4 million naira in prize money?
The world will just have to watch out and see.