One of the lesser talked about details of Amaka Osakwe’s highly acclaimed Autumn Winter 16 collection is that the designer chose to collaborate with luxury bag designer Zainab Ashadu of Zashadu on a line of luxury handbags that tie in with the themes of the collection.
The highlight of the bags the luxury accessories brand made for Maki Oh is the cigarette box clutch bag that takes elements of the label’s signature TKO Mini box clutch and reworks it into a a more stylistic interpretation of a cigarette pack.
Done in the indigo and lilac colours that serve as major colour themes in the new collection and tied into the collection with leather detailing done to mimic the pleated ribbon epaulettes spread through Osakwe’s clothes, it is a succinct contrast to the hyper-femininity of the collection. Smoking is something that is taboo for a ‘good’ Nigerian woman, unless she is a ‘whore’ then it becomes a desired trait.
There is also the ‘Seeing’ clutch that recreates the motif of Osakwe’s sequinned ‘eye’ dress that speaks to the constant surveillance of Nigerian women to ensure they are ‘performing’ femininity as expected by religion, patriarchy and ‘African values’. Both women collaborate on two more bags, rounding out the accessories for the collection.
This collaboration matters.
It is the first high profile collaboration between two high profile female Nigerian designers. Zainab Ashadu was awarded the best accessories designer at the 2015 Lagos Fashion and Design Week Awards, same year Amaka Osakwe was named the best female designer.
As the LFDW awards are the highest indigenous honors for Nigerian fashion creatives, and the collaboration gives us a project that combines their individual talents.
This is momentous for many young female designers and creatives who can see that it can be done. It is even more amazing that this is the collection they choose to do collaborate on.
Amaka Osakwe and Zainab Ashadu are breaking stereotypes and proving their politics are just as valuable as their work.
We are totally here for that.