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As has been well documented, I love Maki Oh. I cannot think of a single designer on the continent, or indeed globally whose work better embodies my love of shape, textiles and understated style.

Often in African fashion we see the use of beautiful ankara and kitenge fabrics, which although have long been identified as being African, in fact hail from Europe (Vlisco Dutch Wax being a well known example) and are produced more often than not these days, in countries such as China & India.

From the label’s conception, Maki Oh has made a point of using fabrics indigenous to Africa, such as adire, aso-oke, akwa ocha, oja, etc. The Nigeria based label’s new ready-to-wear collection is no exception, using beautiful quality fabrics, traditionally & skilfully handprinted to further explore cultural appropriation – in this case, the concept of mermaids. Their incorporation into some Nigerian & Diaspora belief systems (an example being the widely venerated Mami Wata) is explored through colour, texture, silhouettes and the collection’s film above.

Reading further into the symbolism of the collection, Nigerian Visual Curator, Yagazie Emezi writes,

This total adoption of foreign ideas inspires the silhouettes, prints and embellishments in the AW15/16 collection, which is packed with hidden meanings in the same vein as traditional Nigerian attire. A traditional adire print ‘Omi’, (water) covers a dress with a fish-like fin, mirrored-fishes swim across dense cotton trousers, an iridescent fin flows down the sleeve of a silk blouse, a floral Guipure lace skirt which symbolizes her beauty, is backed with a mirrored glitter cotton canvas and a silk crepe dress is flanked by ekpaku ubok (an Ibibio arm band used during a traditional fertility dance).

It is therefore clear to see that Maki Oh should be celebrated as more than just the label that dressed Michelle Obama, as that it has the substance to bring Nigerian fashion and textiles to the forefront, with the potential to broaden the horizons for African fashion as a whole.

Source: Yagazie Emezi.

To see my 2012 post, An Ode to Maki Oh, click here.