The South African Mens Fashion Week was the biggest celebration of menswear designers in Africa, drawing designers from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya to showcase their latest collections. Orange Culture helmed by Adebayo Oke Lawal was one of the five Nigerian labels and he showed on the last day of the showcase to rapt attention and positive reviews.
Prior to the show, the designer announced via his label’s official instagram that he had collaborated with several persons and labels on the new collection, including fellow Nigerian designer and exhibitor at SA Mens 2016, Maxivive, Nigerian accessory designer Nodrog.St and international alternative jewellery designer Zeon Ninn.
With these many collaborators on a single collection, it would only be natural to fear that somehow, something will go wrong. What happens instead is a testament to the creative vision of Oke-Lawal. He manages to corral his many collaborators, marrying their many influences into a single cohesive message.
The new collection has many now instantly recognisable Orange Culture design quirks, the familiar adire pieces, but instead of being the centre piece of the collection they are merely a player in an ensemble team of fabrics. There is a lot of exploration in this collection. Oke-Lawal veers into knitwear with handmade crotchet sweater, large and slouchy on the models.
There is a lot of colour and layering in the sweaters but they are matched well enough that the result is flattering not gaudy. There is also experimentation with leather, a carryover from the brand’s new diffusion line Orange by Orange Culture. He shows lined, color blocked vests and a navy blue jacket that satisfying matte against the more vibrant choices for the collection. There are even more louche wear, this time done in velvet, supple velvet wrap shirts that drape languidly against the models torso. These pieces are for a man who enjoys his clothes with the lived-in-look but still obviously well worked, a man from whom clothes are freedom, not impediment.
What truly ties in the collection though are the accessories. Neon Zinn crafts seven unique necklaces for the collection, mirroring the main colours Oke-Lawal stays in when creating. They include tarnished red, orange, shades of blue and bone white. Those necklaces, alongside suede half loafer sandals crafted for the brand by Maxivive and suede and leather pouches and bags by Nodrog St. complete the looks. Together, they suggest a clear picture of the man Oke-Lawal sought to dress this season; a modern day Shaman, unafraid of edginess, but also painfully uninterested in standing out, just for the sake of it.
SA Menswear Week AW 16
Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, WC, South Africa.