When Lagos Fashion and Design Week (LFDW) starts on Wednesday, the event will be covered by local and global news media and treated by the usual media suspects in Nigeria with the excitement that country bumpkins often have for fashion shows. Lagos deserves the same praise like any other fashion city in the world and so the excitement is well warranted. But what exactly is Lagos Fashion and Design Week all about? This is a legitimate question that will require insight from a critic. Not just because all eyes are in Lagos this week. And not just because an estimated 4000 fashion insiders, buyers, and everyone in between will be in town to partake in all the festivities at LFDW. But rather, the old stereotype of Africa fashion as lacking structure no longer holds true for some African-designers thanks in part by the opportunity provided by LFDW platform. I must also state that we still have long ways to go, with some designers in need for more design lesson before Lagos can claim it’s rightful spot as a top fashion city.
But nevertheless, at LFDW, there will predictably be the usual celebrities in the usual bland fashion designs with some supporting the designers showcasing their collections. However, almost, no one will be critical of what they see coming down the runway, because African fashion has no critic, the likes of Cathy Horyn, who are not afraid to voice there opinions, never mind the consequences. There will be mobs of reporters and posers calling themselves bloggers, and many of whatever the current terms is for those who exist to stroke the social media world’s ego. Surely too, there will be Isioma’s Style Report, a site that has chosen to be honest, relevant and always opinionated. Isioma Style Report (ISR) will of course be the unofficial critic of LFDW because we do value the potential of the LFDW platform and the opportunity it provides for emerging and seasoned designers in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa at large. Case in point, what’s the relationship between Lagos Fashion and Design Week and Heineken? We all know corporate interests can dictate fashion in ways that only serve to benefit the sponsors only. But increasingly, particularly in the West, the lines between fashion and corporate entities have blurred so much so that they do not always work hand in hand, so it would be interesting to know whether this partnership is in good will.
ISR will also ,work to help shape the wider public understanding of fashion and its meaning as seen on the runway, for those in Nigeria and the global audience. Our mission is to be the voice of LFDW so as to give a well-informed perspective of what people may see coming down their runway. Regardless of what people may or may not know about the inner workings of fashions, outside of the runways and the designers, criticisms (good or bad) provide the story for any fashion show, showcasing talent and creativity and not just talks about fashion for talking sake. The job of a critic is to provide an active engagement with the collections, rather than passive spectatorship reports that many of the usual suspect media sites in Nigeria will provide. LFDW needs critics that will discuss what high quality fashion is or is not. What, after all, could possible be more boring, than a bunch of the same snippets, saying the same thing about LFDW. People are beginning to understand the inherent importance of African Fashion. From the emerging designer to those with years of experience, African fashion is finally taking shape with it’s own philosophy of what fashion and design entails. There is a real need for critics and storytellers, to share this philosophy inside and out, good or bad. If people cannot make LFDW stimulating with critical insights of what they see coming down the runway, then even LFDW would have failed in it’s job to take African fashion to new heights.