Profile: The Rise and rise of Maki Oh’s Amaka Osakwe

Amaka Osakwe, a graduate of the Bournemouth Arts University is easily Nigeria’s most visible cultural fashion export. Even if you haven’t heard of her, you have seen her work.

Her pieces have been worn by everyone from the First lady of the United States to Lupita Nyongo and musician Solange Knowles. But she remains grounded, drawing her inspiration from Nigerian life, folklore and cosmology.

Based entirely out of Lagos, the Maki Oh brand was one of the first to embrace the Adire dyeing technique, modernizing the process and adding her signature ideas on the motifs such that a Maki-Oh dress is easily identified by print alone.

Osakwe explores her Nigerian heritage in her work, sourcing all her fabric from Nigeria and using local Adire makers and dyers. Her collections are inspired by the ephemera of Nigerian life, celebrating traditional hair braiders, Yoruba and Efik culture and cosmology.  Started in 2010, the Maki Oh brand has managed to stay true to its aesthetics while demanding global respect and critical acclaim.

She has shown her designs at New York Fashion Week to critical acclaim and has been invited to show at the Sao Paulo fashion Week as part of a showcase of African designers. Not one to shirk her roots, Osakwe has also shown consistently at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week and mentors younger designers. She was also nominated for, and won the Arise Fashion Week’s designer of the year and recently the Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2015 Women’s wear designer of the year

Maki Oh has been featured in several editorials including ones for Genevieve Magazine, Vogue Italia, Vogue, New African Woman. The brand has been championed by Vogue US, Vogue Italia, Vanity Fair and a slew of other international fashion authorities, Her work has been used in editorials for Essence Magazine, Clam Magazine, Vogue, Vogue Italia,

She has also been named Designer of the Year by Arise Magazine.

Her collections draw heavily on the Mami Wata myth and how the intermarriage between foreign cultures edit and transmute indigenous myths and histories. She continues her exploration of the hand dyed adire fabrics and draws inspiration from Efik bridal costumes and their strong connection to the ocean in hues and accents.

Pieces from Maki Oh's Spring/Summer 16 collection 'Arodan'. Photo credit: Kola Oshalusi
Pieces from Maki Oh’s Spring/Summer 16 collection ‘Arodan’. Photo credit: Kola Oshalusi

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Osakwe is working on opening her first atelier in Lagos.

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