Collection Review: Nkwo SS16

Nkwo bleeds blue.

Rarely experimenting with other colours, Nkwo Onwuka, creative head behind the ten year old brand Nkwo is partial to blue swatches and designs almost exclusively with those colours in mind. But this doesn’t limit her or her work as she showed at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2015 showcase.

Moving away from the influences of her Spring Summer 2014 collection; acid wash strips on jersey dresses and exaggerated strips of jersey rope woven into blouses and used as detailing on skirts, Nkwo tackled made for an urban wanderer. The Nkwo label has always pioneered  the concept of a ‘retro-wrap’; an idea where minimal sewing or construction is needed to create a piece of clothing, suggesting instead that all a person needs to create a shirt or a dress is to creatively wrap the fabric around the body, and the new collection is created almost exclusively on this premise.

Credit : Kola Oshalusi

The silhouettes are looser in the new, distinctly androgynous collection and consist of denim pieces with undone hems, further enhancing the wanderer idea. By cutting out weft pieces in the denim, Onwuka creates tiny white squares ordered into geometric shapes, intricate detailing that transforms the otherwise uninteresting denim into abstract art. There is also a lot of white in the new Nkwo collection, layered as part of a tulip skirt, cut into a raglan sleeved blouson, cinched into a sarong, the perfect contrast to the rich blues of the first half of the collection.

By layering and draping denim panels over each other, she creates oversized cape blouses with pilled necklines, loose wrap skirts. She also employs deft cuts to create voluminous striped pants and sheer shirts that are sensual but manage to steer away from garish. Beautiful headscarves made from denim pants complete the idea of repurposed clothing. The collection is complicated enough to appeal to people with an intimate knowledge of how clothes are constructed while remaining easy enough that anyone can throw on one of her pieces without any complications.

In this era of fast fashion, the idea of repurposed, ethical clothing appeals greatly, and with Nkwo’s unique perspective, she shows us that denim is anything but boring and proves why Italian Vogue recently referred to her as Africa’s Commes Des Garcons.


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