Uju Offiah’s Meena has come a long way from its debut showcase as part of the Lagos Fashion Week Fashion Focus program. Three years and several critically received collections later, the mentee of renowned designer Ituen Basi is comfortable enough in her niche to leave daring for other designers and focus on refining her ideas and improving her tailoring.
This is not to say that the tailoring at Meena has ever been anything less than stellar. But at the brand’s Spring Summer 2016 collection, shown at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2015 (LFDW) Offiah finally transcends the ‘complex’ tag that has dogged her work and does what no one expected of her; she creates a collection that is true to her style but easy enough to pass for ready to wear.
The challenge Offiah has had in past seasons is the observation (complaint would be too strong a word) that her clothes are too visibly technical. Someone even joked that Offiah’s dresses should come with a user manual. The attention to detail is great, but at the risk of alienating the casual buyer. Meena’s new collection works like a smartphone, hiding all the complicated engineering behind a user friendly interface.
Offiah finally plays with prints in this collection, using them as foundation on which to build her tower of origami dresses that are inspired and sometimes take direct design cues from Christopher Kane’s Spring 2015 collection.
Folded and layered under tailored blouses, the construction is intricate enough that it immediately piques your curiosity. She tackles the jumpsuit in a checked number, jazzing it up with peekaboo panels and extra folds of fabric that give the otherwise sleek jumpsuit movement. A plum layered skirt and navy blue fringed blouse reminds you vaguely of Maki Oh but only because the construction is that good.
There is minimal embellishment except for the silver and gold shimmery dress and the occasional sparse beading, the emphasis as always is on the tailoring of the pieces. There are also the off-white puff sleeved dresses, a unexpected nod to retro gypsy looks that is surprisingly right at home in this collection full of futuristic dresses. This speaks the most to the future of Meena, marrying futurism with nostalgia.
With this new collection Meena has finally shed the assumptions that her clothes while beautiful are ‘difficult’ to wear and is courting a new market; you.