What Naomi Campbell’s Support of Lagos’ Arise Fashion Week Means for the African Fashion Industry

Naomi Campbell is calling on Condé Nast to publish a Vogue Africa. “We just had Vogue Arabia; it is the next progression. It has to be,” she told Reuters. “Africa has never had the opportunity to be out there and their fabrics and their materials and their designs be accepted on the global platform. It shouldn’t be that way.”

Campbell was recently in Lagos lending support to Nigeria’s Arise Fashion Week (March 30 to April 2). She didn’t just attend the shows, she walked the runway for three designers: Lanre Da Silva Ajayi and Tiffany Amber from Nigeria and KLûK CGDT from South Africa.

She also slayed off the catwalk. Working with stylist Jenke Ahmed Tailly, whose clients include Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian, she gave us a perfectly curated edit that celebrated international and homegrown fashion, established designers and emerging talent.

Case in point, Campbell teamed a kaftan by African new guard Bubu Ogisi of Iamisigo with shoes by cult cobbler Burak Uyan. “I first met Naomi Campbell’s stylist Jenke at my presentation in Paris,” Uyan told FN, “and our sensibilities aligned so well that it felt only natural that a collaboration would follow. It’s very encouraging to see my designs on an icon with such a dynamic spirit.”

But what does all this mean for the African fashion industry? FN spoke to Mazzi Odu, the Lagos-based writer, editor and founder of Pan-African style portal Magnus Oculus. “It was so much more than a supermodel appearance; it signified international recognition for Lagos, arguably Africa’s fashion capital, and also for the wider African fashion industry,” she said.

“Her stating that the time is ripe for an African Vogue is more than just a call to arms for diversity and inclusion: In many metrics, Africans, and Nigerians in particular, are avid consumers of luxury, fashion and beauty products, and thus advertising, the lifeblood of print publications, should, in theory at least, not be difficult to attract.”

From an Off-White ensemble teamed with color-blocked Manolo Blahnik sandals to a spangled number by recently relaunched French heritage label Poiret with Anthony Vaccarello’s feathered concoctions, Campbell’s stylish pairings simply reflect the diverse tastes of stylish Nigerians.

Odu pointed out that destination stores such as Alara stock Off-White, Christian Louboutin and Delpozo alongside Nigerian brands like Kenneth Ize, while at Temple Muse, Givenchy and Giuseppe Zanotti stand next to local newcomer Abiola Olusola.

“It’s indicative of a fashion-literate and sophisticated clientele that continues to consume and enjoy fashion from international and homegrown talent.”

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