Naijastyle: A Tribute To Nigerian Fashion (Part 1)

...Like the saying goes, fashion passes but style remains. Nigerian ladies (and gents) have always been fashionable but today, fashion in Nigeria is increasingly becoming a forefront for our culture and the country and this in turn spells out style.
With Nigerian designer's becoming more internationally renowned, fashion weeks like the Nokia Capetown Fashion Week, MTN Durban Fashion Week, New York Fashion Shows and catWALK the World (aka the Fashion for Food Campaign) and with websites and blogs like:

and magazines such as City People Fashion & Style, ThisDay Style, True Love West Africa, Genevieve, Encomium Lifestyle (E Lifestlye)........

............naming just a few, it is very clear that being fashionable is a priority for over 50% of the Nigerian population. Every female is not only trying to be fashionable but also to be a fashionista - even teenagers. You can't blame them because nowadays you just get your picture taken randomly when you step out and next thing you're in ThisDay Style as the worst dressed or best dressed, so fashion is highly taken into account and increasingly too. Therefore, if you are not based in Nigeria and decide to go visiting or on holiday, don't think you'll be looking all snazzy in a tank top, belly belt and jeans if you don't jazz your outfit up.

Even the magazines say so. Just laying it on the table - so if you're off to Nigeria on holiday, thinking you're gonna be the best-dressed in your little ensemble, better think again because the ladies (and gents) are out to kill heheheh :p

Inspired by Nigerian mags so far, Naija Gal, and Bella Naija, I bring to you, part 1 of the 10 Most Powerful People in Nigeria's All-Round Fashion Industry (you may not agree with me but hey its my blog, let me know your thoughts though)

And by All-Round, I mean in general and not just ladies clothes and/or runway stuff or those based in the States or in England who do not design in and for the Nigerian industry. Also, the most powerful may not necessarily be the best designers.

1. Abah Folawiyo of Labanella

She is the wife of the well respected mogul, Wahab Folawiyo and set up Labanella in 1981. She founded FADAN - Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria.

    Her pull factor is most probably elaborate designs that only aristocrats are comfortable in - straight to the point.

    More on her here

    Address: Labanella, 38 Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos.

    2. Lanre Ogunlesi of Sofisticat

    Sofisticat was started in the late 70s by the four Ogunlesi brothers when the Obasanjo regime (Federal Military Government) imposed a ban on the importation of ready-made garments.

    Their tailoring service and fashion items were therefore an alternative for Nigerian men, a selected clientele who were used to only importing their clothes. However, this has broadened and now, any gentleman can take his material to Sofisticat and request for it to be tailored into any styleof his choice. By now, it is obvious that sofisticat is a fashion house for men :o) His pull factor is apparently "elevating the dress code of the modern Nigerian man."

    More on Sofisticat at

    Address: Sofisticat, 4, Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja, Lagos.

    3. Deola Sagoe of O'dua Creations

    is certainly one of Nigeria's most popular and most respected designers, it also seems she is currently the most popular/recognised Nigerian designer in the global fashion industry. the She was the winner of the first Africa designer by M-net and Angol gold for the future fashion.

    She is married to the MD of Toyota Nigeria Ltd., Kofi Sagoe, she has been on the big stage from theonset since she took over her late mother's business -
    O'dua Originals. Her pieces are very distinct and her pull factor is her carving a niche for herself as an international figure and launching a pret-a-porter line that is greatly admired.

    More on her here

    Address: O'dua Creations, 322A Ikorodu Road, Anthony, Lagos.

    4. David Kolawole-Vaughan of Dakova

    Dakova for short, has been a fashion designer in Nigeria for about 20 years - being a top designer during a certain period, on the verge ofgoing bankrupt, branching into magazines and a fashion directory - Eminent people, contesting as a Local Government chairman at some point. Some distractions and a few ups and downs it may seem, but style and fashion have always had him rooted.

    He is back for good, debuting at the This Day fiesta held in March and has won many awards since he started Dakova in 1986. His pull factor is his gift and passion for fashion.

    More on his designs and pictures here

    Address: Dakova Fashions, 82 Brickfield Street, Ebute-Metta, Lagos .

    5. Godwin Mekwuye of Vivid Imaginations

    It was he who gave President Olusegun Obasanjo a new look in 1999 by changing his wardrobe and appearance.

    His designs are tailored to older men and he has a large customer-base in the government with senators, ministers and members of the National Assembly.

    He is also a very meticulous designer whose pull factor is said to be the "darling of dandies and aspiring style leaders."

    Address: Vivid Imaginations, 250 Ikorodu Road, Obanikoro, Lagos.

    I'll be back with my part 2!

    A Lil Break Away....

    ....from the tributes for me to tell you what is going on this week:

    The Get Censored Night, tonight @ Bacchus Night Club, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos - aims to shun gangsters, unprotected sex, drug abuse and to promote living responsibly. So Be There.

    The Inheritors, a play written and directed by Wole Oguntokun will be held at the Agip Recital Hall, Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos on Sunday the 27th at 3pm and also at 6pm. Check out laspapi's blog for more details.

    The All Niger Delta Peoples' Conference from today, 24th-27th August, which you can still register for if you're interested in discussing the problems faced by the Niger-Delta region as well as things like global peace. It'll be held at the Grand Hyatt DFW in Texas. Click here for details.

    Milklady Update: Can I just say that if you missed the embellishd fashion show, you really missed a lot - it was well worth it, there was so much effort put into it, very retro and funky with the models and their seductive looks, nuances and poses different themes as though they were acting as well as modelling in order to portray the impact of safe sex and the consequences of AIDS. Very nice outfits too and they were all within the ages of 16 and 22! I will put up pics soon, you might catch some on the website if you are lucky.

    P.S. Check out Chichi's blog on Let's talk about sex - it's quite good.

    Felaversation...(A Tribute to Fela)

    This is a tribute to the music, life and times of the Late Fela Anikulapo Kuti (Oct. 15, 1938 - Aug. 2, 1997)

    Ironically, a talk is being held today at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos titled Felaversation which is designed to celebrate the fact that "Nigerian intellectuals have, at last, responded to the challenges posed by their counterparts from the West and Europe on the issue of articulating the epochal contribution of one of Africa's leading cultural icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti to world culture. "

    More info on Felaversation at Lagos Live. Okay, so maybe it wasn't ironic, just convenient for me to tribute to Fela!

    The event is in honour of Benson Idonije, who was the very first manager of Fela Kuti when he returned to Nigeria in the 50s .

    "For Fela Anikulapo – Kuti, the only losers are the governments, security operatives and individuals who tortured, humiliated and tried to destroy him over the years, otherwise how can anyone explain the popularity of Fela, nine years after he reportedly died of HIV-AIDS?." "77 albums, 27 wives, over two hundred court appearances. Harassed, beaten, tortured, jailed. Twice-born father of Afro-beat. Spiritualist. Pan-Africanist. Commune king. Composer, saxophonist, keyboardist, vocalist, dancer. Would-be candidate for the Nigerian presidency. There will never be another like him."

    Mos Def, in 2003 said -- "Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was James Brown, Huey Newton, Rick James, Bob Marley, Duke Ellington and ODB all rolled up in one black African fist. The protest artist as a real live, awake and hungry human being. Africa's original rock superstar."

    I give you Fela's lifestory in bullets and some never before seen pictures -- enjoy!

    • He was born in 1938 in Abeokuta into a Christian family.
    • His Mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a huge influence on his life. And was a political activist – she was the first voice to speak out for women's rights earning them the right to vote and earning herself the Lenin Peace prize in the early sixties.

    • Fela’s music legacy began in 1954 when he met his life-long friend Jimo Kombi Braimah (JK) who was a singer for a local band in Lagos called The Cool Cats.
    • He studied music at Trinity College, London as opposed to his initial intended course, medicine.

    • He and JK eventually formed a band in London called Koola Lobitos which performed at youth parties and jazz clubs.

    • Fela met and married his first wife in London during this period - Remi Taylor, the daughter of a Nigerian father and Black American mother.

    • With heightened purpose, a new energy and a new sound, Fela returned to Lagos where he changed the name of his band to Africa 70 with a new energy and new sound, and began to have hits.
    • He opened his new club - The Shrine, and started his own commune that would later become the Kalakuta Republic.

    • Fela had become a marijuana smoker of epic proportions. Besides smoking giant joints filled with igbo (Indian hemp), Fela had now developed his own marijuana recipe, which he called goro.

    • On April 30, 1974, the commune was raided and Fela was arrested for possession of marijuana. Released on bail, he returned to his compound and re-named it "Kalakuta Republic.
    • In February of 1977, about 1,000 members of the military went to Kalakuta Republic, blazed through the electric fence, set fires, brutally beat everyone in sight, raped any number of the many women who lived there, and threw Fela's 77 year old mother out of a window (which eventually resulted in her death). The whole of Kalakuta Republic was burned to the ground.

    • After a month in prison, Fela was taken to court and charged. A counter attack by Fela was thrown out of court a year later, leaving him no compensation and calling him a hooligan as well as maintaining that the Kalakuta Republic was burned by "unknown soldiers" (hence the title of 1979's album "Unknown Soldier").

    • Back in Lagos Fela did something that still to this day raises many eyebrows. In one ceremony, he married every one of his dancers and singers, calling them his "Queens," and giving them all the name of Anikulapo-Kuti. It was the first anniversary of the burning of the Kalakuta Republic.
    • He has said that this was the happiest day of his life, but as seemed to be so often in his life, it was to be very short lived.

    • Less than two months later his mother died as a direct result of the wounds incurred after being thrown from a window by the military a year earlier.
    • The devastated Fela announced to everyone that he intended to deposit his mother's coffin outside the Dodan Barracks - residence of the dictator Olusegun Obesanjo (who had ordered the 1,000 strong raid on Kalakuta Republic) and so he did.
    • In 1979 he put himself forward for President in Nigeria's first elections for more than a decade but his candidature was refused.

    • At this time, Fela created a new band called "Egypt 80" and continued to record albums and tour the country.
    • In 1983 he again ran for President but was again attacked by police, who threw him in prison on a dubious charge of currency smuggling.
    • After twenty months, the regime changed once again and Fela was released from prison. On Fela's release he divorced his twelve remaining wives.

    • Fela performed in Giants Stadium in New Jersey as part of the Amnesty International "Conspiracy of Hope" concert, sharing the bill with Bono, Carlos Santana, and The Neville Brothers.

    • It was announced that he died on August 2, 1997 in Lagos, Nigeria of an AIDS-related heart failure.
    • Most recently, the Late Fela was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the NMA's this month.

    That is my tribute to Fela in a nutshell....more stuff to come in a few months, I think you've had about enough of him to last you!

    p.s. For some classic Fela quotes, click here!

    Source of wives' pictures - UrbanImage