The Nigerian design industry has always struggled with finding balance between what is great and what is needed. With the vast majority of our design labels either being luxury or premium labels whose insistence on making like their international counterparts and creating clothing that appeals to the rich one percentile forces them into incur extravagant production costs and sell at overpriced and often arbitrary rates, design labels who do something else are often appreciated. Nigerian women’s wear Lady Biba has spent the last two years wrestling with this conundrum.
Its earlier collections Refined Opulence, Graphic Illusions and Structured Elegance all leaned heavily towards the evening wear dress aesthetic, severely limiting the brand’s potential reach. But this trend was all the rage at the time and it was understandable for the label to have been swept by the wave. But for it’s Spring 17 collection, Lady Biba takes a step back from this label and reiterates everything the label represents. The result is “The Classics“.
“The new collection is a celebration of those who have with us on our journey so far and a welcome to those that are new to the Lady Biba brand.”
For a collection called ‘The Classic’s’ Lady Biba’s collection is anything but. This new effort finally, thankfully, sees Lady Biba finally give up on the evening wear glamour and seek to dress a different, more accessible woman. There are no floor length dresses in this collection, no plunging necklines, extravagant beading or impossibly long trains. What there is are separates and work appropriate, wearable clothing.
There is a startling similarity between ‘The Classic’s’ and Nigerian designer Meena’s ‘Architectonic’ collection, obvious in the asymmetrical peplums, the architectural inspirations for the clothing and the very technical draping and layering, all hallmarks of Meena’s very distinct aesthetic. But Lady Biba is able to draw inspiration from the designer in a way that is flattering instead of a mockery of her work. The construction and fabrication is flawless, the fit impressive, all the component pieces coming together to give the label its best collection since inception.
If this is what Lady Biba considers classic, then we have to admit, we want more of the same.