As one of the finalists for the 2015 Lagos Fashion and Design Week Fashion Focus programme, Daniel Chikezie’s Onwuchekwa raised eyebrows. Many whispered (and some asserted) that Chikezie made shirts, something that ‘literally’ anyone could do. The Fashion Focus programme is supposed to find the best emerging design talent and give them a platform. Many felt Onwuchekwa denied a design label actually pushing boundaries an opportunity to showcase. His collection, while interesting, didn’t justify his spot on the Fashion Focus list. He had questions to answer.
His Spring 16 collection ‘Triumphant’ tries to do this. We see Onwuchekwa in his element, a shirt maker, but we also see him truly explore for the first time.
On a muted canvas of Black cotton, Onwuchekwa experiments with colour block, using day glo purples and pinks. He splices geometric prints with the brand’s staple pleather inserts and aesthetic zip closures, mixing the old with the new. He even experiments with layering and asymmetric hems and oversized beading and jester style duo tone pants and shirts.
In spite of all this activity, there is an uncluttered approach to menswear that recalls strongly, Ian Audifferen’s first two collections for Tzar and an attention to colours that is very much P.O.C’s niche. However Chikezie marries these elements well enough into something that is entirely his.
Onwuchekwa isn’t there yet, (the collection is still at it’s core a cache of shirts) but we see growth, and an eagerness to experiment, that is the hallmark of any good design label. Chikezie traces over floral motifs with a gel pen, creating a three dimensional texture that is truly refreshing. That was a guided idea, intriguing enough to have held under the weight of a full collection. How we wish he had done that instead.
Photography: Olayinka Joseph Elliott for Ellisoft Photography
Models: Hamzat and TJ for Fowler Model Management