The days when fashion shows revolved solely around the four style capitals are long gone. Although aspiring designers still aim to show their collections in those cities, nations such as Brazil, Russia, India and Sri Lanka now have their own fashion weeks – plus, in the perpetual search for new, untapped talent, department-store buyers tour the world. The latest location on their adventurous agenda is Lagos in Nigeria, which is fast becoming the centre of an emerging African design industry. Selfridges’ buying team uncovered a creatively rich seam there in October, and these finds are now on show (until mid-January) in the store’s latest Fashion Gallery pop-up shop.
Ndani, the Nigerian Fashion Project, features the work of five established designers from the area, as well as that of several emerging talents. And to chime with the in-store arrival of cruise collections from top international names, it concentrates on showcasing vibrantly colourful and decorated eveningwear, winter holiday attire and accessories – from print bags and beaded cushions to modern takes on traditional jewellery (glass necklaces in second picture, £75 each). There is a strong emphasis on sophisticated handcraft, and all the designers take their African heritage – traditional Ankara prints, beading and embroidery, for example – and give it an on-trend spin.
Names in the second-floor shop include Jewel by Lisa Folawiyo (skirt in first picture, £745), who bejewels and hand-beads traditional fabrics cut in a cool, modern way; Eki Orleans, whose fluid silk dresses feature traditional prints blown up to almost abstract proportions (example in third picture, £400); Lanre da Silva Ajayi, with her ornately embellished evening gowns (£3,180 for a unique piece); Odio Mimonet, notable for her beautiful prints and soft silks; and Lagos institution Tiffany Amber. These are all designers to watch – and all the pieces are exclusive to Selfridges in the UK.