Ndani, the Nigerian fashion project/pop-up store at one of the world’s leading luxury department stores, Selfridges in the heart of London is the trending fashion story of the moment! BellaNaija Style just had to get all the scoop and photos just for you. Fabulous Mirror Me – www.mirrorme.me fashion blogger, Fisayo Longe shares her experience at Ndani, exclusively on BN!
My initial reaction to the news of the Ndani space at Selfridges followed this emotional sequence: shock, excitement and then anxiety. Shock because it is an unprecedented move, ”are you serious, is this really happening?!”; excitement because this could pave the way to a new era in Nigeria’s fashion industry, ”like Nigerian designers could totally start running the show if they played their cards right!”; and anxiety as I wondered whether this would be enough, ”hey don’t get ahead of yourself, this could be a one-hit wonder”.
The Ndani popup store at Selfridges was conceptualized and developed by Omoyemi Akerele of StyleHouseFiles (the same creative development agency behind the Lagos Fashion & Design Week) in collaboration with Guaranty Trust Bank and Selfridges. Ndani at Selfridges showcases the best Spring/Summer 2013 pieces handpicked from the runways of Lagos Fashion and Design week which attracted fashion elite from around the globe. It focuses on five well-established Nigerian designers, some of which have come to be household names: Tiffany Amber whose first fashion show I attended when I was nine years old; Jewel by Lisa whose designs I covet because of the intricate placement of embellishment to the best quality of African fabric; Odio Mimonet whose genius use of lace I admire; Lanre Da Silva Ajayi whose Autumn/Winter 2012-2013 collection I bookmarked on my computer as I thought it really did master sophistication in the coolest way with the perfect edge; and Eki Orleans whose designs are a great reference for the mixed print and pattern trend. Also featured in the space are Agu, House of Silk, DOT Handbags and Ituen Basi.
On Saturday, I went to visit the Ndani space.
There could not have been a better location for the Ndani space! Oxford Street being London’s most popular attraction and Selfridges being one of the best department stores in the world. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, thousands of people shop on Oxford Street and Selfridges in particular everyday. Everyone looks forward to seeing the exterior window displays of Selfridges. As soon as I saw that the Ndani Space had it’s own window, that was one box ticked for me.
The display window is idealistically African with the use of orange, print and drums, but not overtly so. It is relevant to the season with the gift-wrapped boxes and Christmas trees. Many-a-passerby stopped to take in the beauty of display and take pictures of it.
After taking in the display, I went in. A little less anxious, more confident and very excited for what lay in store.
Above, the gorgeous Ituen Basi dolls. Nigerian Barbie? Yes please!
The painstakingly beautiful Jewel by Lisa beaded clutch bags. The retail price of £435 might seem rather steep until you see and hold the bags in person, realizing how much time and effort must have gone into creating each clutch.
The styling of the mannequins could have been much better. The pieces are pretty separates but together, they did not attract much-needed attention from shoppers with no prior knowledge of any of these Nigerian designers. The mannequins have a huge role to play here as it is the first impression, this should be improved.
There were two pieces I couldn’t help but try on: a silk crop top by Jewel By Lisa retailing for £535 and a beautifully cut skirt, also Jewel By Lisa and a dress by Tiffany Amber, retailing for £1,100.
Matching diverse prints from the same colour palette to beautifully complement each other.
It was hard to leave behind this perfect Tiffany Amber dress, the sartorial elegance of it was undeniable.
Throughout the entire collection, it was great to see the seasons biggest trends such as ornate embellishment, Oxblood and print on print playing a role but not ubiquitously so.
I have read and heard complaints about the prices of the clothing at the Ndani Space. However, it is important to remember that these designers are to Nigeria what Prada is to Italy. Dropping the prices just for momentary success at the Ndani Space would be a shot in the foot- this is couture. The target market is not young fashion obsessed people without the resources to afford the clothing. As it is in Nigeria, it is targeted at the elite. As these designers will be relatively unknown to many foreigners, I do think that there could have been more effective marketing as the space which exists from 1st December to January 2nd might go unnoticed by some of the target market. However, I get the impression that more important than huge sales to the Ndani Project is making an impression and putting their names out there, in order to pave the way for future relevance in the international fashion industry.
As with the recent emergence of the Nigerian music industry on the international scene, I believe that the Nigerian fashion industry is headed in the same direction. The Ndani Space is a good first attempt and this is not the last we are going to hear of collaborations of this nature. If the cards are played right, it could become the norm to walk past Nigerian high fashion spaces in Selfridges on a Saturday afternoon. That would be simply amazing!
Photography: Fisayo Longe of Mirror Me and Regina Akingbade of Reine Roi
The inspiration behind fast-growing fashion and lifestyle blog, Mirror Me is Fisayo Longe. In under a year, Fisayo established herself as a foremost Nigerian fashion blogger in the UK. Fisayo draws her inspiration from countries she has visited in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East in her passion for exploring the world beyond her shores. Find out more on www.mirrorme.me