Nigeria’s Bubu Ogisi, fashion ‘harbinger’ with African talesWed, 01 Nov 2023 06:45:41 GMT

Wearing one of her trademark large hats and dark glasses, Nigerian designer Bubu Ogisi puts a group of models through final fittings in preparation days for Lagos Fashion Week — one of the cultural highlights in Nigeria’s economic capital.Dressed in black, white and tan creations with hand-crafted bracelets and collars, models walk by as Ogisi checks out parts of her Spring/Summer 2024 collection entitled “Shadows”, with the concept of exploring protective materials and fibres.One of Nigeria’s foremost designers, Ogisi may have featured in Vogue and partnered with Victoria’s Secret, but she remains resolutely driven by her exploration of African stories and traditional materials.Describing herself more as a researcher than designer, Ogisi travels Africa looking for inspiration to incorporate traditional materials and techniques into her designs for her IAMISIGO brand. “I think I’m still just continuing my process and expanding actually the materials that I’m researching,” Ogisi told AFP at the fitting in the 16/16 boutique hotel in Lagos. “It’s what I love engaging in every day.” Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast and her native Nigeria are among the African countries that have inspired Ogisi — who worked in the oil and gas industry before studying fashion in Paris, finding her creative voice and eventually forming IAMISIGO. “Everything I create is always either assembled there or I bring all the magical elements or ingredients for the soup that I created between Nigeria and Kenya,” she said. “But I love sourcing for everything I find within these different places.” – ‘Out of her comfort zone’ -IAMISIGO art director Roxane Mbanga said Ogisi’s work sought to bring back stories from the past “that were erased by colonisation”. Later at the Lagos Fashion Week, Ogisi’s models, with hands and faces marked by henna, walked slowly over sawdust covered floor past the seated audience.In a logistical problem faced by many businesses in Lagos, where the power grid is unreliable, the show went without air conditioning until late because there was not enough fuel for the generator.But the show went on despite the heat, accompanied by artist Sheila who performed a ritual with chants paying respects to the shadows and spirits.”For me, what Bubu represents in a global, not just an African perspective, is the need for us to understand that craftsmanship is at the very heart of fashion,” Omoyemi Akerele, Lagos Fashion Week founder, told AFP.”I see Bubu as an artist and I see her as, sort of like a harbinger, so to speak, of craftsmanship, you know, she goes out of her comfort zone to travel into communities.” Increasingly, Nigeria’s creative industries have been making their mark around the world, with Afrobeats music stars Burna Boy and Sake filling stadiums and winning awards, while Nollywood movies are becoming hits on streaming platforms Netflix and Amazon Prime.For Ogisi, who has worked with musicians and other artists, Nigeria’s fashion fuses naturally with the other worlds of entertainment.”You can’t, you can never, ever, remove costume from any of these musicians,” she said.”Directors need their films to be as amazing visually for the audience, and you can’t have that without an amazing set of pieces for the body.”