Ibrahim Aminu might not be a regular on the Lagos red carpet circuit but he is no newcomer. Shuttling between Kaduna and Abuja, Aminu is a reclusive but celebrated designer, overseeing the creation of bespoke bridal dresses for hundreds of muslimah brides as the head designer for bespoke label House of Kaya.
In late 2015 when he was announced as the only finalist from Northern Nigeria for the British Council Lagos Fashion and Design Week incubator programme, Fashion Focus after applying the second year in a row, there was extra pressure for him to perform.
This he managed to do with House of Kaya’s first ready to wear line.
The House of Kaya ready to wear 2016 collection ‘Arewa Diamond’ is heavily influenced by the designer’s religion, presented as a celebration of the Muslim woman and her choice to embrace ‘modest’ fashion. This idea was also influenced by the designer’s background and his desire to step away from the extravagance of bridal wear while trying his hands on redefining staples.
The nine look collection is done almost entirely in black, mauve, white and a muted yellow. Elaborate lace and chiffon head scarves hide the models’ hair, framing their fresh faced looks, and coral embellished embroidery strips adorned cropped blouses and voluminous kaftans.
Ruching was a uniting design approach; exaggerated ruched collars and pleated sleeves in lush cashmere and light cotton layered under delicate chiffon over skirts were repeated through the entire collection. The designer also leaned heavily cropped blouses with tiny peplums, which helped break the long, voluminous silhouettes. This was best illustrated on a cape sleeved blouse with twin coral panels cinched at the waist with a white bow worn by veteran model Tamar Awobutu.
While it was a solid first collection, there were a few hitches.
There was the odd pant suit ensemble, probably thrown in as an afterthought to ‘modernize’ the collection. While it was far from awful, the showcase would have worked better edited out of the line-up. The way embellishments used on several of pieces shown as well seemed, amateurish, considering the experience Ibrahim Aminu has behind him.
For a debut collection, the House of Kaya 2015 R.T.W. is a solid start, with all the pieces shown almost entirely wearable as ensembles or separates, an asset many of the other Fashion Focus finalists were either oblivious to or completely disregarded. It will be interesting to see what he does with future collections.