The independent woman is fierce
The flames that burn in her heart dance in her eyes.
She is compassionate,
Arms outstretched she lends her help.
She is unapologetic,
Shrewd in business and sound in mind, she refuses to play it down.
She is strong,
She carries the future of the nation for 9 months inside her and for 3 years in her arms.
She is authentic,
Everything is done her way, her pace and her style.
She is a multitasker,
She joggles her kids, family, career and dreams and none of them fall.
She is beautiful,
Every inch, curve or bump is beautiful.
The lagos fashion story is one that is known by very few, I didn’t know it either. I watched the clip put together by the organisers, the designers shared their struggles – competing with imported clothes, not having customers for their clothes and how expensive it was for the designers to make them– they also shared their triumphs, and through the short clip my respect doubled, if not tripled. The clip set the tone for the whole event, millenials like me, looked with a different kind of admiration when the first designer ‘Modella Couture’ was announced, it didn’t just look like a bunch of old clothes my grandmother probably wore, I saw and felt the expression. I understood the mind of the designer that needed to express her identity in the world of the norm, and I understood the hearts of the women that purchased the clothes – individuality. The models’ strut embodying the liberation the clothes gave them, their smiles so wide as they play with the clothes, their hairstyles high and full completing the look in the past. King Sunny Ade’s music comes on and ushers us to the early 70s, the era of ‘juju’ then the masterpiece comes in, the last model struts down the runway with a dress that can only be described as a masterpiece, a fusion of the old and new, the material appeals to the 60s and the cut to us millenials. What a way to start a show!
Zizi Cardow’s interpretation of the late 70s to early 80s brought a fire, the choice of material vibrant and spicy, oranges and pinks flood the runway and ease us into the spunk that was the early 80s, big hair and an even bigger strut, Nigerian women were coming into their own, the post-civil war woman was edgy, vibrant, dressing in colours that scintillates our senses and appeals to our edgy side. The 80s woman is the woman we all want to be, unafraid and bold.
Ayo van Elmar, the youngest designer amongst the 5, maintained the level Modella Couture started the show with, unapologetic in her cuts and bold with her choice of fabric, but, as the 80s wound down, the Afros got smaller, and the women became ‘chilled’- it was the reign of the hippies, the chill that came with liberation was very obvious in their laid-back strut, their cool shades, scarves tied across their forehead, it truly was a celebration of the becoming of a woman, a woman that didn’t need to be overly edgy to be different, she didn’t need to be spunky to show a different side of herself. The 80s woman had grown into her own.
The 90s interpreted by Mai Atafo showed the increase in the ‘craze’ for weddings. Women became more conscious of how they wanted their wedding to look and most importantly how they looked, as usual, Mai didn’t disappoint, his cut exquisite and his style very original just like the ever-green wedding song that was playing in the background Oruka by Sunny Neji. The 90s woman was the hopeless romantic, she finally loves who she has become and has found love.
Lanre Da Silva Ajayi introduces us to this millennium, the 21st century woman, it was almost reminiscent as I watched the models strut down, lagos fashion really has evolved, but it proved how much of a cycle fashion really is, some styles from the 60s made a comeback, cuts from the 70s also, but what I loved most about the millennial woman was her appreciation for the past, she understood the thirst to be different of the 60s woman, she adopted the spirit of the 70s woman, that fire, edginess, spunk, she understands the chill of the 80s woman, and she paid homage to the hopeless romantics of the 90s with the bold red lip. She is 50 years of fashion in Lagos.
Music; drums beating -slow, fast, slow, fast
Bodies gyrating as if possessed by the spirit of whom they celebrate, their pants adding a new texture to the rhythm, they shine, their sweat gleaming on their skin as the light of the fire illuminates them.
From the earth through the fire she’s being formed – waxing and waning she’s moulded in the fire.
Kneeling around her are her ancestors, they clasp their hands, heads bowed, voices raised in unison with the drums, spirits high in anticipation -she’s almost here now.
The earth rumbles, the ante up, the haze of the excitement blinding.
She’s here now, her form is in the fire.
The torch is passed, Cleopatra to Rosa Parks, she passes to Amina of Zaria and with a smile on her face she gives it to Maya Angelou. Maya smiles, ecstatic as she passes it on to the most recent Maeyo Joie, and from a modern queen to another she hands the torch to me. From the embers of the fire another QUEEN is born.
My mark etched to my child bearing hips.
Hands lifted in appreciation.
Eyes lifted as I pray, and await his approval, and then he breathes.
His breath awakening my senses.
It is my era now. My reign, my rules.
From the fire, earth sealed with a breath -a QUEEN.