Internationally renowned visual and performance artist Ike Ude, the only Nigerian to feature on Vanity Fair’s best dressed list three times was in the country last year as part of the Art House Contemporary’s Art festival where he talked to young artists and creatives. But while he was there he worked on a private commission for Vogue Italia’s Uomo, a commission that has recently been revealed as a portfolio of some of Nigeria’s most stylish men. Many of the expected names are there; Noble Igwe, Denola Adepetun, Banky W, Alex Ekubo and designer Ohimai Atafo.
There were also a few unexpected names; actors and reality tv stars Gideon Okeke and Jim Iyke, comedian Julius Agwu and relative new comer and Tv presenter Ozzy Agu. It’s a polarizing list at best, but that is expected. Ude is an international artist who only has minimal contact with the Nigerian fashion ecosystem and his list features many prominent faces in the Lagos social circuit. Even he admits that this in his essay. In his words…
“The Ten are excellent examples of the sartorial temperature that characterizes Nigeria, specifically, Lagos, the commercial capital, a microcosm, say, of Africa’s most populous nation. This ten are by no means a comprehensive count but a sound snapshot.”
While understandable, it is ultimately a poor excuse. It is bad enough when foreigners come to Nigeria and portray Nigeria’s vast and varied culture and people as a macrocosm of Lagos. It is even worse when a Nigerian does this. Vogue Italia is a wealthy establishment with the financial and human resources to have done a more comprehensive portfolio.
But ultimately, it is up to us to hold them to this.