One of the most exciting features of the 2017 GTBank Fashion Weekend, which holds this weekend, is the runway shows. A two-day event filled with glitz and glamour, the runway will be chaperoned by a superb cast of internationally renowned designers who will showcase some of the season’s best collections in the world of fashion. The designers slated for Day 1 of the event are Tracy Reese, Lanre Da-Silva Ajayi, Taibo Bacar, Ituen Basi, Mimi Plange and Meena. It’s time to meet them.
The passion to make every woman look beautiful led to the creation of Tracy Reese’s ready-to-wear clothing line in 1997. Today she has 3 labels; Tracy Reese, Plenty by Tracy Reese, and Plenty Dresses by Tracy Reese. Tracy’s use of bold colours and daring prints not only made her a celebrity favourite but also got her inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America, where she currently serves on the board of directors. Her clothes have been adorned by the likes of former first lady of the United States, Michelle, Sarah Jessica Parker and Gabrielle Union.
Lanre Da-Silva Ajayi
She started out with a love for Mathematics, which she followed through to get a business degree. Lanre eventually called this in to follow her passion for fashion; setting up the LDA brand in 2005. Living in England influenced her love for couture which she interprets with various kinds of fabric ranging from silk, lace and even Ankara. Lanre’s work continues to gain international recognition, featuring in top magazines like Vogue and she was the first African designer to have her label stocked at the Dolce & Gabbana Concept Store in Milan, Italy.
As the son of a seamstress, Taibo Bacar grew up with an intense passion for fashion, eventually leaving behind his training in IT to start his own clothing line in 2008. He was awarded Emerging Designer of the Year at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2012. Taibo Bacar has continued to grow in leaps and bounds, showcasing his first collection in South Africa while also being the first African brand to showcase at Milan Fashion Week. Taibo’s style is feminine, elegant, simple and comfortable.
Ituen Basi has built a reputation for creating new and exciting designs inspired by old couturiers. Her designs are best known for its individualistic expressions, creative combination of timeless elegance and bias for the finest quality materials. Her 2009 collection brought back the proliferation of the Oleku trend; short sleeved Iro and Buba of the 1970s and led to the new wave of the Ankara interpretation all around Nigeria and even beyond the shores of Africa. In 2012, Ituen’s creativity earned her, her very first international recognition when she was named ‘designer of the year’ at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in South Africa. Ituen’s unique use of Ankara has earned her wide praise for producing exceptional but wearable art and made her the go-to designer for celebrities and fashionistas in search of something beautifully African.
Mimi Plange spent a few years working under American designer Rachel Roy before launching her own label in 2010. Along with her business partner Ibrahim Ndoye, she created the fashion line Boudoir D’huîtres, later changing the brand to her own name Mimi Plange in 2010. Her designs are inspired by her African heritage and Victorian fashion and have been worn by the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama, Viola Davis, Serena Williams and Janelle Monae.
The Creative Director behind Meena began her career in fashion as a protege of well established Nigerian designer, Ituen Basi. In 2010 she went on to create her very own Nigerian women’s wear label- Meena; a brand name coined after her mother Philomena. Meena maintains a signature style of designs which consists of origami-inspired details and sophisticated cuts. In February 2016, Meena was among the designers chosen to represent Nigeria at the International Fashion Showcase by British Fashion Council.