Sylvia and Olivia Enekwe of Gozel Green are second generation fashion designers whose work has been inspired by their father, a theatre arts professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and their mother, a designer and graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology New York.
The Lagos Fashion and Design Week Fashion Focus programme introduced Gozel Green to Nigeria but the way they approach fashion has kept them on the minds of everyone.
Through the 2014 L.F.D.W. fashion incubator programme, the Fashion Focus series, Gozel Green was given the opportunity to study under ethical fashion brand Edun and a retail/mentorship program with luxury retailer Grey Velvet.
The siblings are known to build their collections around story telling (Broken pots and other stories, Road to Kilimanjaro) while embracing aspects of design that others tend to overlook, for example, reintroducing threads discarded during the sewing process as embroidery, spinning simple ideas into unique results without losing the details that define their work as African earns them the respect of even the most hesitant critics.
Building on the success of their 2015 ready to wear collection (worn by Omoyemi Akerele, founder of LFDW and celebrities Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; they have partnered with fashion retailer Zazaii, run by former LFDW alumni, Isoken Ogiemwonyi, stylist and owner of fashion store Zinkata, Ezinne Zinkata and luxury retailer, Grey Velvet.
Their most recent collection, Marching to Kilimanjaro, continues their journey of self-awareness as a brand and is built around the deconstruction of casual wear.
Inspired by the novel ‘Journey to Kilimanjaro’ by their father Onuora Enekwe, the new collection takes classic denim jean silhouettes reconstructed as skirts and skrousers, detailing in the form of circular cut-outs and oversized pockets built into the front of flaps of reverse hi-lo dresses. As is expected of the brand, the collection was done almost entirely in primary colours and neutrals.
Heavily thematic, this new collection is more editorial than ready to wear, the emphasis on concept execution, sometimes at the expense of real world usability. However, quite a number of the looks will appeal to the buyer tired of the ‘trend’ driven collections that have dominated the new fashion season.
With each season, the Enekwe sisters break ground and further the vast idea that is Nigerian fashion. They have huge shoes to fill and they do it with ease.