LFDW2014: Bubu Ogisi’s IAMISIGO finally finds its level with ‘Woodabe’.

My favourite collections from Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2014.


I didn’t exactly love the IamISIGO 2015 Resort collection ‘White Noise’, something about the plain lines and the dearth of colour didn’t sit well with me. Resort collections are supposed to be the bridge between couture and ready to wear, beautiful enough that the final customer is willing to shell out the big bucks but pret-a-porter enough that it can be thrown on without much consideration for styling and accessories and still look stylish. The IamISIGO 2015 Resort collection was no doubt beautiful, but it was one that I could easily see many people trying and failing to incorporate into their wardrobes and lifestyles. There already have been some well documented misses.

That said, I was looking forward to Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2014 cos Bubu Ogisi, creative director for the brand was billed to show her Spring Summer 2015 for the very first time there. I follow the brand’s Instagram and there had been a lot of teasers, leading up to fashion week.

The word that came up most often in conjunction with the new collection was the word ‘Taboo’. There were also quite a few images of Northern Fulani Men and women in elaborate costumes and painted faces. The images rang a bell so I downloaded one and did a Google reverse search, which led me back to something called the ‘Wodaabe’. The Wodaabe are a nomadic Fulani culture based mostly in Chad and Niger separated from the wider Fulani populatioin by their adherence to older Fulani traditions, progressive marriage and sexuality practices. The word ‘Wodaabe’ itself literally translates to people of the Taboo.

The Woodabe, in full costume for the Gerewol Festival.
The Woodabe, in full costume for the Gerewol Festival.

The Wodaabe also have something called the Gerewol festival, a marriage festival that celebrates and sexualizes male beauty. The images on the IamISIGO Instagram were particularly of Gerewol festivals so I was excited and a little apprehensive to see how she would translate these influences into a collection.

I have to say, Bubu Ogisi surprised the shit out of me. I saw the collection straight off the runway.

The Taboo collection was brilliance, pure and simple. She incorporated the Wodaabe’s influences into a beautiful and fluid collection that had no thoughtless appropriation, just respect and admiration for the culture that inspired the collection.

Enough admiration, let’s talk clothes and influences.

The collection did a twist on the Gerewol festival, still maintaining the pageant nature of the festival but keeping the emphasis on women’s wear.

The first face was unexpectedly, a male model, Toyin Oyeneye. It was a great choice; he exuded the kind of masculinity needed to contrast the entire retinue of models to follow. I loved the loose Hi-lo over-shirt, especially the detailed collar and the panel on the back of the shirt. It draped beautifully. As far as first looks go, it doesn’t get better than this.

The collection had a lot going on; colour wise. Forest Green, Olive, Tan and Black. But the predominant hue of the collection was a range that started in the Navy Blues, through Indigo and ending up in Royal purple. There was also a lot of texture expressed through layering in the collection; juxtaposing loose glossy squares of fabric over a matte skirt or sleeveless blouse, university jackets made entirely out of netting worn on loose cashmere pants and an arresting lattice appliqued over satin. There was even a little fringe thrown in there. It shouldn’t work but it does.

I also have to talk about the accessories; I LOVED that Bubu Ogisi showed the collection in flat soled sandals. We rarely get to see female models wearing flat shoes. Then the makeup was direct homage to Wodaabe culture, with a minimal make up and single gold line from crown to chin, asymmetrically dividing the face. The Wodaabe are quite particular about facial symmetry. There were also ‘nomad’ backpacks in matching colours to complement the look.

These are my favourite looks from the collection:

– This ensemble is the very definition of understated ease. The pants are loose, so is the over-shirt. The detailing on both is also subtle but intricate. These are pieces that will last many seasons in one’s wardrobe.


– Bish whet? I saw this dress/cape combination and basically lost my marbles. The cape is literally sewn into the tube dress and the contrast between the lacy black cape and jersey tube dress arrests the eye. The quality of the tailoring is evident in the finish of the sleeves.


This extra-long, layered bandeau dress is a tricky sell, but that’s why I love it. The audacity of layering tube dresses on top of each other to create an anti-fairytale ball gown is something that appeals to me. Uju Marshall wears this with such ease.

The texture on the long bandeau is just beautiful
The texture on the long bandeau is just beautiful

This purple shawl dashiki is culmination of the Wodaabe influences in this collection. It drapes beautifully, the shawl works just as well up and down, layered around the neck, and the best part, this shawl dashiki is a standalone piece. I want one of those.


My one real hitch with the collection.

– I really didn’t understand this ensemble. The netted shawl blouse reminded me of early 90’s music videos when white female musicians were trying desperately to affect blackness. Maybe it’s the cut or the model’s body but the dress under the shawl blouse looks a little too much like ill-fitting lingerie and that olive layer on the skirt doesn’t add aesthetically to the dress. It looks like something tacked on after the dress was finished.


During the encore, the models re-enacted a Gerewol dance, which was a delight to watch. It was a final celebration of a designer’s influences which we rarely see in Nigerian fashion. In all, I’d peg IamISIGO as one of the most thought out, if not best collections shown at LFDW 2014.

Bubu takes her bow.
Bubu takes her bow.

To see the entire collection, go here.


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