Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2014 was fraught with many problems, the biggest of which in my opinion was a lack of communication. Little was more shrouded in mystery than the fate of the LFDW Fashion Focus programme. First of all, we were surprised when this year the LFDW team announced the Fashion Focus competition no longer came with a cash prize and was now simply a platform for young designers to show at LFDW. The scholarships/internship position offered to the finalists was still intact but now the stakes were different. I personally had hoped that the Fashion Focus competition with the New York based fashion brand Edun. Though it was part of the official call for Fashion Focus applications on the LFDW website, details about it have been scant this year.

Then the announcement came here from the LFDW that didn’t quite state but suggested that the Istituto Marangoni was partnering with the British Council to offer the scholarships for the Fashion Focus initiative finalists. The institute also put up its announcement here which was quite different from the LFDW announcement. Generally, I could glean that the internship had been replaced with a three week scholarship that carried none of the perks of the previous prizes of the competition.

Fashion Week came and went with no talk of the Fashion Focus initiative and the scholarship(s). We didn’t even find out there were two scholarships up this year instead of one, as the announcement on the LFDW website suggested that one of the scholarships available was for an amateur stylist not a designer. Fast forward to today, LFDW finally announces via an Instagram post that the winners of the Istituto Marangoni scholarships have arrived, Titi Bello of Titi Belo and Frank Aghuno of Fruché. Really happy for them.

Titi Belo was clearly one of the favorites to get noticed at LFDW this year. Her collection was strong and thematic, adding a brand based spin on the Lace and Leather theme, substituting stiff leather for more malleable pleather and ditching morbid black for forest greens, greys and purples cut into tailed blouses, smocks, capes and textured lace-up dresses. Titi Belo kept the pleather on the bottom half of the ensembles molding them into leggings and sculpted skirts. It was an adventurous collection considering how unforgiving pleather can be when it’s cut wrongly but she managed to pull a level of cohesiveness worth a second look.

I particularly loved these looks.

The Goth Girl's baby doll dress.
The Goth Girl’s baby doll dress.

The detail of punched lace holes on the bodice of the blouse is an interesting detail that appears, put to better use elsewhere in the collection. Why this dress is so interesting is that the pleather panels on the bodice is it’s most conservative detail. That spinning of what is edgy and what is safe is refreshing.

Best use of a pleather highwaisted skirt.
Best use of a pleather highwaisted skirt.

The pleather high waisted skirt fits so well it gives the illusion of being poured on the model, along with the tail on the blouse and it’s scalloped edge softening the whole look, this piece is very interesting.

This skirt is cut to perfection really
This skirt is cut to perfection really

The only all lace look in the entire collection, Titi exaggerates features,cutting the shorts so they flare out in sharp angles that contrast the cut outs on the blouse. This is a design quirk that will fail nine out of ten times but Titi manages to stick it.

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Frank Aghuno of Fruché was the youngest of the finalists this year, and one of only three to show both menswear and women’s wear, I guess that already set him apart. But he did bring a fresh perspective to the Focus Initiative with his willingness to try out unconventional silhouettes. These were my favorite pieces from his collection.

Mixed striping.
Mixed striping.

This mixed stripe dress is an interesting cut. There is a lot going on both on the bodice and the skirt, a visual experiment that asks you to take in the pieces individually and then as a whole. It works, but even better it moves. On a curvier woman this dress would be  irresistible

Demure.
Demure.

Frank tackles striping from a menswear angle with this easy wear suit combo. The choice of fabric colour works for him as its pastel hues are soft enough that the whole look is pleasing instead of jarring.

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I generally abhor asymmetry but the one sided peplum is a strong focal point for the dress, balancing out everything else, and the tailoring on the sheer tuxedo blouse is superb.

Frank Aghuna, ever so bashful.
Frank Aghuna, ever so bashful.

Congratulations to the both of them. I hope London offers great things. For now, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for new information about the internship with Edun.

To see Titi Belo’s winnning collection go here

To see Frank Aghuno’s winning collection go here

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