The dust has settled on a hectic weekend in Lagos, packed with activities, one of them being the annual Arise Fashion Week which sees designers from around the world take to the stage for what is now being known as our official fashion week.
Editors, buyers, designers, celebrities and guests filled the hall at the Intercontinental Hotel to watch the show which collaborated with international supermodel Naomi Campbell for this year’s edition. It was a celebration of the constant evolution of our industry with each year surpassing the next and proving even more that our industry is one that is accelerating quickly, breeding unbelievable talent and catching the world’s attention.
One brand that needs little introduction is fashion industry behemoth Odio Mimonet, a label that, since officially launching in early 2000’s, has been a pillar of the Nigerian fashion industry and set the blueprint for designers that have followed. Unrivalled in quality, thoughtfulness and creativity, for 20 years, Odio Mimonet has quietly conquered.
Creative Director, Odio Oseni, graduated from Yaba College of Technology and went on to cement her style credentials at the prestigious London College of Fashion. Intent on infusing her love of art with fashion, Odio began her career creating wearable pieces of art and was a pioneer for authentic couture pieces in Nigeria with the focus being on the tradition of creating exclusive, custom-fitted clothing which is an integral part of the brand. Each piece is lovingly crafted using the highest- quality fabric and materials with painstaking attention paid to each detail right from ideation right through to the hand-finishing which is done by the hands of skilled artisans who have worked for the brand for years.
Unabashedly feminine but with the undeniable power that comes with wearing a couture piece, the Odio Mimonet woman is a force. A potent cocktail of sophistication and supremacy; the Odio Mimonet woman wears her clothes like an armour, the most stylish one you ever saw.
As the lights faded and Odio’s name flashed up on the screen, a roar swept through the crowd and guests sat up in their seats. Clearly loved in her hometown, the audience was packed with women that embody the brand; elegant women of means with a flair for style and a love of clothes. Odio is one of their own and their support, their love for her was palpable, infectious.
Opening the show was the gorgeous Agbani Darego who floated across the runway wearing an oversized belted kimono in a tribal print with a matching scarf tied turban style. It was a strong opener and set the tone for what we now know as the Mimi diffusion line. Mimi was inspired by the relaxed Gidi girl who wants her style to be easy and stylish yet overtly urban and in touch with her roots. Odio did this by incorporating oversized, easy to wear silhouettes with distinctive African prints and sassy, bold slogans like ‘Living my best life’. Mimi is a stylish global citizen who celebrates her hometown wherever she goes through her modern African aesthetic.
The Mimi diffusion line was created in response to fans of the brand who wanted something that embodied all the elegance of the label but in a more casual way that would translate well for everyday and can easily transition into the night. The essence of Mimi was captured by Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede who hit the runway in a bright blue shirt and wide-legged pants combo that read ‘Live, Love, Laugh, Lagos’; words to live by.
As the show went on, the Mimi women slowly morphed into her alter-ego, Odio. The Odio pieces began with the designer’s signature beading which is opulent, dazzling and the epitome of her workmanship. The hand- stitched beads adorned one midi dress in particular and as the dress glistened under the lights and the fringe detailing swung mid-stride, an excited cheer rose from the crowd. This is what they were here for, this is what fashion week was about; getting the opportunity to see, quite literally, show-stopping pieces.
The rest of the collection was a celebration of the quintessential African woman. Gilded corset detailing was reminiscent of coats of armour for the ‘strong’ woman but complemented with ruffle detailing and exaggerated sleeves to juxtapose strength with femininity, letting us know that the two do not have to be mutually exclusive, they can exist in one dynamic individual.
With each extraordinary piece, Odio Mimonet took us all around the world and we landed right back in Africa. What makes her clothing so special is that whilst it has international appeal and certainly crafted to an international standard, it’s so unrepentantly African. That is the essence of our growing fashion ecosystem, not by trying to mirror a Western aesthetic, but to elevate our own, constantly outdoing the last collection, weaving our own narratives into our craft.
The Odio Mimonet tribe came out to celebrate the finale, led by Odio Oseni herself. The crew stopped only to receive two bunches of flowers from Odio’s children, a touching moment, in what was otherwise a striking reminder that our fashion prowess did not begin today but it continues to evolve in the most spectacular way.