Review: Zapel SS16 overwhelms and that’s a good thing

As part of the British Council supported Fashion Focus class of 2015, Zapel had a lot to prove. The class of 2014 produced Frank Aghuno’s Fruche, Titi Belo’s Titi Belo, Papa Oyeyemi’s Maxivive, Adeju Thompson’s Adeju Thompson and the Enekwe sisters’ Gozel Green; all brands that went to excel in their individual ways. The pressure was on, and surprising everyone, Zapel, one of the chosen labels with almost no portfolio turned out one of the strongest collections.

Zapel’s collecton is built on a foundation of fabric. Vibrant tie-dye defines the collection, setting it apart from all the Fashion Focus finalists, but Chioma Ebubedike Igbokwe doesn’t stop there. She employs airtex mesh, traditionally used for sportswear and updates it for the red carpet, crafted puff shouldered sweatshirts and short sleeved blouses. For detailing, she plays with fringe and closures, forsaking traditional zips and buttons for loose lacing. The effect is a suggested sensuality, one that leaves the wearer in charge and able to decide how comfortable they are with baring skin.

Igbokwe also plays with volume and proportion, layering pieces over each other and creating ruffled skirts made from layered pleated squares. All of this movement would drown the ideas of a lesser designer but Igbokwe’s colour contrast choice only serves to amp up the drama. This is best illustrated by the most risque piece of the capsule collection, a spaghetti sleeved dress, with a lace up bodice that lists dangerously to one side, exposing the model’s torso. Worn over an airtex mesh blouse and paired with tie-dyed boot cut pants, we are treated to the model’s body, gloriously bare but just a rope tug away from modest. This flirtation is brazen enough that you can’t help but stop and stare.

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With just six looks, Igbokwe shows the scope of her talent and schools us with her ability to stay chaotic elements and corral them into order, it will be amazing to see what she does with a full length collection.

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