MEET MAKI OH + THEIR NOSTALGIC SS"18 COL.
Maki Oh designer Amaka Osakwe tends to conjure elaborate tales from a faraway dreamland for inspiration. This season, however, she drew on experiences that were far closer to home, circling back to her childhood in Lagos, Nigeria. Fond memories of playing dress up in mom and dad’s closet came through in the exuberant collage of patterns and slightly oversize tailoring that was finished with girlie ruffles. There were chic ruched tulle frocks in happy colors—lemon yellow and tomato red—what Osakwe described as “auntie-give-me-cake dresses,” a colloquial phrase referring to the frothy party looks kids wear to curry favor with adults at big family gatherings in Nigeria.
The fun continued with a nod to schoolyard games such as hopscotch (or suwe as it is known in Osakwe’s hometown) and the smudgy chalk squiggles of the playground showed up on tiered, ruffled shirts, button-downs, and cropped pants.
Those charming hand-painted, inky lines were created with adire, a Yoruban hand-dyeing technique. Osakwe has turned to various traditional Nigerian textiles in her work, including raffia and silk fringing, but her use of adire has become a compelling signature, one she was wise to hone in on this season. The subtle, bluesy mood of her work is entirely different from the bold wax prints that most fashion lovers associate with Africa, even if that world-renowned fabric is rarely made on the continent—more often than not, it’s mass-produced in China. Osakwe has been praised for bringing a fresh perspective on Nigerian design, and rightfully so: Her point of view is undoubtedly one of a kind. But beyond expanding a global creative reach, this talented young designer is committed to bringing time-honored production values back to their rightful home. With her 100 percent made-in-Nigeria line, she’s helping to keep centuries-old traditions alive and kicking, and that’s hardly child’s play.