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Kayito Nwokedi: Does Fashion Commentary Matter?

Kayito Nwokedi

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There’s beauty in spareness and simplicity. There’s also beauty in chaos and exuberance. That’s why when Rihanna walked down the red carpet at the recent Met Gala, literally all the fashion press praised her avant-garde Rei Kawakubo-designed Comme Des Garçons dress. Actress Zoe Kravitz, who wore a relatively simple icy-pink Oscar de la Renta gown, also garnered applause. The disparity between the two looks didn’t compromise one fact: they both looked great. Or so everyone thought…

Rihanna & Zoe Kravitz

Just for humour, I went through the comments section of Instagram posts of fashion handles that carried the pictures of the aforementioned stars. “Too much. I don’t like the shoes“, said one about Rihanna’s look. “Zoe looks better in black. This outfit looks forced and not well put together”, said another. Turns out even Vogue, Elle or InStyle didn’t influence what opinionated individuals thought of the looks. Which brings me to the question, does fashion commentary matter?

More than ten people have asked me if I have a problem with Mai Atafo. One reason for asking was that I “called him out” for allegedly “copying” a Marchesa dress worn by Kerry Washington at the 2013 Emmy Awards. The said copied dress was worn by Adesua Etomi at this year’s AMVCA‘s. In reality, all I did was ask “inspiration or imitation“. My mistake. I should have included “creative coincidence” as a third option. Another reason they cited was my review of the SA menswear week, in which I essentially said the collection wasn’t cohesive. Mai himself contacted me about this review, explaining the collection even further.

Truth is this, I am a fan of Mai Atafo’s work, and I think his flamboyance makes him the closest person to Tom Ford that we have in Nigeria. But I saw a slight misstep and shared my thoughts on the collection. People saw it as malicious when all I did was voice my critical opinion.

Kerry Washington & Adesua Etomi

All I’m trying to ask is, should criticism or commentary exist in fashion? Since people will like what they like or buy what they buy anyway, regardless of what is written by the plethora of fashion press. I, for example, will continually see Rihanna through rose-coloured glasses, regardless of what she wears because she has a unique mix of confidence and nonchalance, which, on her, becomes a sexiness that no one else possesses.

Also, as regards designer collections, even the best of the best sometimes stray from their already-established design vocabulary and are subject to criticism from various fashion editors. (Case in point: Renowned fashion critic Cathy Horyn, is known for penning honest opinions on designer collection and has been banned from some shows). Yes, they will have buyers whether or not the collections have great reviews, but constructive criticisms are written to make a designer better not bitter, so why do most take offence to it?

It is often said that even the most precious diamond has its flaws. I guess the same can be said of fashion and its designers too.

Read more of Kayito’s work here.

Kayito Nwokedi is a Fashion stylist and Editor based in Lagos. He studied Electrical Engineering in Covenant University. He's worked at Mania Magazine, Pride Magazine, and Y!naija. Follow him on Instagram: @kayito_n

6 Comments

  1. Baby gurl

    May 30, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Fashion commentary has lost its relevance just as fashion week has, to be honest. The fashion establishment is just jostling to hold on to the surviving remnants of old traditions. It was relevant when every piece of clothing (read:fashion) was novel in the time of Charles Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Dior and Coco Chanel. Now even the so called high end brands are mass producers. Nothing is new. Nothing can hardly even be new no matter how they tried. Fashion immediacy is the future so where is the wisdom or time to provide commentary. The buyers used to be snobs from big establishments such as Harvey Nichols et al. Now the buyers are in their billions and are checking out your instagram feed on their Iphones. The world has changed. Fashion needs to sit up. Even Robin Givhan that used to amuse and inspire me with her “hot as hell” reviews is all bland and stale now. The fashion bloggers are now doing store/brand hauls. I think that’s the fashion commentary of today. By the way Kayito, that Mai Atafo piece was outright copying. Nothing “creative coincidence” about it.

  2. Cocolette

    May 30, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Speaking of fashion commentary, where is Emmy Collins???? He put fear into the hearts of Nigerian celebs on the red carpet that year ? Chai! I miss his blog very much

    • Oyinlola

      May 30, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      saw Emmy Collins at ASA ENCORE last month. I asked him about “our” blog, he told me it’ll be back soon. I seriously hope so, that blog taught me a lot of things about fashion. Now the length of a man’s trousers is the first thing I look at, both live and in pictures

    • Cocolette

      May 31, 2017 at 12:42 am

      @oyinlola… my dear, are we twins? One of the things I distinctly remember learning from the blog is that a man’s dress pants should never have extra length and bulk at the feet. I really do hope our blog comes back.

  3. David Nwachukwu

    May 30, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    I totally agree with others who’ve said that times are changing, but I do think there should still be a space for fashion commentary. If only for the sake of inspiring true creativity. Years ago, scathing reviews forced designers to go back and rethink, especially if there were to be any similarities to another’s work. It basically brought out the best in designers and even sparked a bit of competiton amongst them. It was that freshness that made the shows interesting and it was also that reverence for the art of fashion that made the world curious to know it’s inner workings. Sadly the industry caved in to commercialism and it seems like everything’s been done. The industry needs a MAJOR overhaul. I think it’s coming soon.

  4. tunmi

    May 31, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Let’s keep having the criticism, maybe just in different mediums. I do miss Emmy Collins

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