Thursday, December 1, 2011

Collections: Bridget Awosika

In a sultry tropical city where there is pandemonium at every street corner and where a cacophony of colour rules the catwalks, Bridget Awosika’s collection at last month’s MTN Lagos Fashion & Design Week was like the very cool arrival of a serene but invigorating glacial breeze. The only thing interrupting Awosika’s palette of stark white fabrics and fluid asymmetrical lines was a tempting menu of discreet peek-a-boo slits stitched together with criss-cross webbing, transparent foliage motifs and ice-blue floral clusters which were pushed to the outer edges of the slinky silhouette.

 “This collection was actually quite an emotional one for me,” said the young Nigerian who left Lagos as a teenager with her parents for Washington DC where she got a prestigious degree in business management before moving to New York City to pursue fashion at Parson’s School of Design.

“It meant so many things to me… innocence, growth, beauty, and healing. I guess I was thinking of ‘new beginnings’ and ‘cycles’, exploring relationships, a woman’s stance in life, and where I live again – Nigeria – now that I’ve moved back here a couple years ago.” Despite her cosmopolitan upbringing, a versatile perspective and an aesthetic with the potential to tempt global markets, Awosika says that choosing to show in Lagos (rather than one of the fashion capitals) means that sometimes she is labelled an ‘African designer’ instead of being considered just another ‘international talent’ like her peers on other continents. Does that frustrate her?

 “In the end, I believe it’s my work that’s most important – not so much where I’m from. I love being African and I wouldn’t trade the African experience for anything. It’s definitely part of what has moulded me to become the woman and the designer who I am today.” This season is only her second complete collection. The first also included many neutral tones but focused on brooding shades of black, more unconventional draping and a deconstructed sex-appeal that contrasted a monastic mood of chastity and restraint with sheer panels and erotic brute leather.

 A thrilling, dangerous and diverse backdrop like Nigeria where a phenomenally wealthy and well-educated elite zoom through chaotic shanty towns in bullet-proof Ferraris and where high-society and street culture constantly collide must provide all the inspiration a young designer needs – does it not? Or at least inspirational muses must not be hard to find among the country’s 150 million inhabitants, correct?

 “Oddly enough, I find the unlikely sources even more interesting. Yes, I'm inspired by people, architecture, modern and avant-garde art, my mood, culture, music and so on. But it’s usually the times that I’m not even in ‘design mode’ when the best thoughts run through my head. I once attended a chef’s tasting party, for instance, and it was quite interesting how he played with shapes, colours and the presentation of the food. I guess I also find asymmetry beautiful – things that are perfect but somewhat imperfect. Things that are beautiful but still ugly in between.”

( I'm drawn to the varied elements of this collection....especially the more "fluid" pieces.

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