Arise and Conquer: Nigeria’s New Fashion Glossy-------
They say there’s strength in numbers. And Friday night, the Arise African Fashion Collective, a runway show in four parts, proved to be just that. It was a celebration of the launch of Arise magazine, which is published out of Nigeria. The oversize glossy covers fashion, music, and art, and it appears to be Nigeria’s answer to Interview magazine. It’s also snagged Naomi Campbell, Liya Kebede, and Alek Wek as covergirls. The show kicked off with Xuly Bet’s latest collection. For those of you who can’t place the name, he’s been at it for 15 years. He’s still going strong with trademark streetwear—red trapunto stitching over rubberized body-hugging dresses and oversize club-kid pants (see: early nineties skater, Kids, Neneh Cherry). Models from all over the globe—Liya, Lara, Behati, and Alek—flew down the mirrored runway to Grace Jones’ “Corporate Cannibal.” Which brings us to the lady of the hour. Have you ever seen Grace Jones in the flesh? Talk about presence. Watching her catwalk leaves you awestruck. The way she swaggers, demanding you lose the fashion manners and stand up and cheer? Never mind she’s an icon and muse, lady’s got some serious legs. Tough act to follow, but the other three African designers managed to hold their own. Tiffany Amber embellished classic feminine silhouettes with intricate bead work and traditional Ankara fabrics—a standout being the colorful hand-beaded belted trench on Chanel Iman. Stoned Cherrie had a girlie forties feel with chiffon bowed shirts, ruffled skirts, and jacquard capes in pinks and blues. If the former is Africa’s answer to Nanette Lepore, then Momo’s Fati Asibelua could easily be compared to Calvin Klein. Minimal silk and cashmere silhouettes in blacks, grays, and bronze metallics felt incredibly modern. While the designers hail from Nigeria, Mali, and South Africa, all fabrics were sourced from Africa and Europe. And we hope to see them all over the globe.
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