Top flight British Nigerian designer Ade Bakare just pulled a mulligan on us and debuted an ankara collection. This is the first time the designer is creating a collection solely in ankara, even though he has dabbled in adire in the past.
The ten piece collection pays homage to pre-independence Nigerian fashion and is inspired by the vintage photos of the designer’s own mother from the 1950’s. It is a complete turn around from the designer’s signature high concept pieces and his penchant for silks (gazar and crepe).
The silhouettes of the new collection are very restrained. Sleeveless Ankara dresses populate the collection, lace paneling and sleeves providing what little detail there is available in this collection. The silhouettes in the collection are very simple, basic A-line dresses and six piece skirts, the kind that have trickled from the runway and become the staple of every tailor. On some level, you can almost convince yourself that this is an artistic exploration of simpler times, a vanity project of sorts.
But even more telling, there is no effort to match patterns on the panels of the six piece skirts, a mistake we would expect only of a rookie. This, as well as the obvious seams across the collection is quite the regression for a designer of his calibre. We hear the collection retails starting from 20,000 way below the designer’s usual price points. All of this would have been understandable if ankara and adire weren’t already fabric platforms that have been overused and overworked. Only design construction on the level of Stella Jean would have made us overcome our ankara fashion fatigue.
However this collection isn’t all sentimentalism. Even in a collection this muted, his experience shines through. He reminds us with a knee length pantsuit with a tie closure that sit regally on the model, of the level that he truly plays on when he isn’t distracted by sentimentality.