Chanel X African Designer


I think my primary joy about this collaboration is the fact that this collection is somewhat aimed at eradicating white people ignorance about the continent of Africa being a little country and or place. You know, then also for the first time in history, french-based fashion house Chanel will be putting threads together with a Nigerian designer to birth its Spring-Summer 18 collection. 

January of 2017 saw Nigerian fashion illustrator and designer, Omonigoh Aito-Imonah, asking for a collaboration in the comments section of Kaiser's Instagram posts. Not the best way to ask for a collaboration, you might be thinking, but spurred on by the sneers of another post on her instagram page detailing her unpleasant experience and desire to create an African-themed collection for the Chanel  brand , thereby urging her over 1k followers to tag the Kaiser until he saw the post and gave her audience. When this and several DMs failed to catch the Kaiser’s eye, she decided to take her future in her hands. After reading several motivational books, particularly “ Chicken soup for the soul” by Messers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, she came up with the ingenious idea of writing an Instagram post, newspaper style, detailing her meeting with the Kaiser and her subsequent designing of a collection using indigenous African fabric for the Parisian couture house.
The post so captured the hearts of readers world –wide , that it went viral and finally caught Mr Lagerfeld’s attention. Within a month of initial contact, Omonigho was flown to Chanel’s palatial head-quarters in Paris to meet with the Kaiser and commence work on the ground-breaking collection which she aptly titled “ Africa is not a country”. 

On being quizzed on the title, she said and I quote “ It saddens  my heart at the average Westerner’s idea of the motherland…not a fault of theirs, but rather of mis-information that stems from it’s ugly portrayal in the international media of a land largely ravaged by famine , war and disease. More disconcerting is the assumption that Africa is one country, even by Americans of African descent. Africa is most definitely not a country. Africa is a huge continent made up of several countries divided into North, South, East and West Africa. I am from one of the countries in the Western part of Africa…Nigeria to be precise. So this showcase aims at correcting this erroneous mentality”

The collection (which was sold-out within its first hour of release) was shown during the s/s 2018 Paris fashion week. The show, which was a spectacle on it’s own, showcased the strides and development of the African continent, particularly in technology, art and music on floor-to-ceiling projector screens that lined the walls of the venue. Dark- skinned leggy models strutted the cat-walk to the music of Nigerian Afro-beat legend, Fela , Neo-soul Artiste Asa, and a host of more contemporary Nigerian Artistes, clad in incredible fashions. Pieces ranged from Chanel classics such as the fringed jacket and pearls re-done in Aso-oke fabric, which is a woven cotton fabric indeginous to the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria in West-Africa, Silk shirts, with Adire (tie-dye)motifs, and gravity defying floor-length dresses in swathes of tulle with indika prints (mud-cloth prints).... 

Front row occupants included American Vogue Editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, Lagerfield muse, Willow Smith and her mother, Jada Pinkett-Smith,  Madonna, Katy Perry, Famed Nigerian Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Media Mogul and T.V host Oprah Winfery, America’s next top model creator and Host, Tyra Banks, Actress Angelina Jolie, Musician and Chanel Ambassador Pharrel Williams, Tennis Star Venus Williams and a host of other prominent public figures, bloggers and celebrities.
The show came to an end with a thunderous standing ovation, as the closing piece,sashayed down the runway. An extra-ordinary gown covered in crystals,pearls, fringes and tulle, worn by a 6 foot 10” Somalian model hedged in between the Kaiser and the African (Nigerian) designer who dared to live her dream…Omonigho Aito-Imonah.

Excerpts of the story from her Instagram.

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