Chidinma Obairi’s Resort 17 collection is the work of a big fish in a small pond

Not many Nigerian design labels would deign to boldly declare themselves as ‘Luxury’. There is too much at stake, too much that needs to be fulfilled to truly earn the respect, acclaim and ability to demand hundreds of thousands of naira for a single dress. We expect a certain level of attention to detail that each aspect of the production process must attain. And of course, the quality of the workmanship (usually done by the best artisans) and design process should be is inimitable. Nigerian women’s wear label Chidinma Obairi dares to go where no other label has gone, especially with its new Resort 17 collection.

Let us not even consider the implications of a resort collection in an industry with only one major calendar event, or that Obairi doesn’t show at this event, preferring instead to arbitrarily release collections. The label’s new collection, worked with lush gilded fabrics of the highest quality passes at least one of the criteria required of a luxury label. The fabric speaks volumes and makes you wonder what masterpieces could have been wrought in the hands of geniuses like Naeem Khan or Elie Saab. Obairi has no idea what do with the fabric, so she returns to what she has always done, full skirted sleeveless dress, shifts and maxi’s. There is no innovation, no overt or covert theme or overaching idea behind the collection. It seems a collection for its own sake.

For what it’s worth, Obairi’s eponymous label is quite proficient at marketing itself as luxury, as it’s editorial campaign, shot in a grand lobby with exquisite plaster work and high ceilings subtly suggest that the dress belongs there. But even then, Obairi’s work is merely an accoutrement, not the centre piece of the editorial. It doesn’t enrich the set, but rather tries to leach off its grandeur. And doesn’t succeed.

Photo Credits
Photography: Emmanuel Oyeleke
Stylist: Chidinma Obairi
Makeup: Bimpe Onakoya
Hair: Charles Stevens
Models: Tansey Coetzee, Aduke, Esther, Zara

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