The first thing that comes to mind as the lights dim and two models, dressed in yellow frocks and waving censers march down the runway opening the Ejiro Amos Tafiri’s L.F.D.W 2015 showcase is church. But by the time the first lights go up and Uju Marshall starts her walk draped in a flared purple print dress, it becomes obvious that the new collection is far more complicated than that.
Five years after Ejiro left her spot as head of the Tiffany Amber design and applied for the Lagos Fashion and Design Week’s fashion incubator programme, the British Council Fashion Focus programme, she returns to the L.F.D.W fashion focus programme, evolved, with a collection that proves once and for all they made a mistake not giving her the prize in 2011.
The new collection is inspired by religious iconography. Oversized priestly bibs adorn chest, little cherubs peek out from the folds of fabric as the models walk, reaching out to sainted mothers perched beside stained glass windows. The detailing of the prints on the dresses are so intricate it is an event itself to watch each fold move. A black and tan print plays contrasts to the high drama of the stained glass windows. But the collection bothers itself only with the dark beauty of religious iconography, bypassing it’s other less desirable attributes.
But Ejiro doesn’t rely on the print to do all the work for her. She shows how much her understanding of design has grown with her cuts and silhouettes. She creates elaborate patchwork dresses, tailored so excellently there is nary even the smallest lump to indicate where the seams are joined between the panels. She plays with asymmetry, employing thin shoulder straps that remind of fashion tape. She plays with volume and form, perfecting the ruffled sleeveless and the butterfly sleeved dress.
With two thirds of the collection done, the collection changes direction, shedding the high drama prints and panelling for simple monochromatic pieces where the cut and tailoring are the primary draw. Ironically this third of the collection will be the hardest to pull off, there aren’t that many women who can get away with a halter neck jumpsuit with low bust cups and ruffle detailing on the hip.
There is also a bit of bridal wear tucked onto the tail end of the collection, a teaser perhaps for a bridal line, or a tongue-in-cheek calling card for the potential celebrity brides sitting front row, flashing 12 carat rings.
This is Tafiri’s strongest collection yet, a fact buttressed by her win at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2015 awards two nights later. This new stronger direction the brand is taking sends two very distinct messages; Ejiro Amos Tafiri is no longer under the very large shadow of Tiffany Amber, and the label is ready for the big leagues.