It feels like sometime in 2015 the fashion world woke up to the realization that Muslim women have preferences and interests and the pursuit of fashion and style is one of them. This is counter-intuitive considering many of our beauty and fashion trends have strong roots in the Middle East. Kohl liners, falsies, extravagant embroidery are all trends that are part of the middle eastern aesthetic only borrowed by western designers looking for ‘inspiration’ abroad. But 2015 saw designers go from seeing the Middle East and Muslim women as an abstract source of inspiration to a physical, viable market for their designs. Dolce and Gabbana have keyed into this market, and so has Nigerian women’s wear label Nouva Couture.
Nouva Couture (we wonder why the ‘couture’ still stays) has begun the press rounds for it’s Spring 17 collection ‘Middle East Lagos’ just in time for Lagos Fashion and Design Week. It draws inspiration from the ‘Middle East’ a phrase we have some difficulty taking seriously, considering it treats the many cultures of the Middle East as a monolith the same way many western brands consider Africa country, and draws inspiration from this abstract place. The Middle East is a vibrant multiplicity of cultures and traditions spanning several centuries, each with distinct aesthetics. To bundle all of them into a singularity suggest laziness on the parts of Yemisi & Bolaji Ayinde, the designers of this particular collection.
The vision and inspiration behind Middle East Lagos (MEL) is bringing the middle eastern lifestyle, art and fashion to Lagos. Each dress in the collection is named after reputable middle eastern women including the former 1st lady of Nigeria late Mrs Maryam Babangida who was known to be a very stylish, classy and conservative woman.
MEL is a collection designed with the highest quality of pure indian silk sourced from the greater part of south Asia. Bound in luxury, our silk fabric accented with natural fresh water pearls extracted from pearl oysters and freshwater mussels with rare iridescence. A healthy touch of man-made Swarovski crystals, imported from Austria, enables us to mix glamour with sophistication. And finally generously embroidered Swiss lace was used to create patterns and add character to each uniquely designed garment in the MEL collection.
For what it claims to be, Middle East Lagos has very little of the Middle East, or very little of Lagos. In fact, there is far more contemporary Western influenced angles from which to sell them to the Nigerian woman. If this is how Nouva Couture targets a decidedly Muslim/modest audience, then they are taking a huge gamble. And if we consider the proliferation of fashion and lifestyle outfits geared specifically towards Muslim women and takes the time to actually engage their needs and desires, Middle East Lagos is a gamble that might not pay off.
Collection by – @NouvaCouture
Jewelry by – @meeyas_gold_link & @Jewellryaffair
Hats & Facinators – @Enemaya_stores
Makeup by – @bola_beautywise
Henna by – @TheHennaPlace
Hair by – @wrapunzell
Video production by – @jaybrothersproduction
photography by – @mr_laah