Naomi Campbell and Adwoa Aboah walked Kenneth Ize’s Paris debut
A who's who of the industry’s best-known faces sported the Lagosian designer’s exquisite handwoven tailoring.
If first impressions count, then Kenneth Ize’s debut on the Paris Fashion Week schedule is certainly one he’ll be glad to be remembered for. As diaries quickly book up with the blockbuster shows of conglomerate-backed houses and more established independent brands, young designers’ are often at a disadvantage when it comes to drawing a crowd. If the front row of Kenneth’s show was anything to go by, however, it wasn’t a struggle he came up against.
A who’s who crop of editors and buyers turned up to see the young Austrian-Nigerian designer’s homage to his childhood memories of dressing for church, a co-ed collection of breezily tailored pieces cut from handwoven aso oke cloth. It’s brightly-hued stripes and geometric patterns have swiftly become the unmistakable signature of his artisanally-focused practice.
Just as hard to miss as the clothes themselves were the talents wearing them -- some of the most in-demand in the game. Imaan Hammam, who recently featured in i-D’s Rihannazine, opened the show in quilted split-seam skirt. Wearing a similarly quilted tailored jumpsuit was Adwoa Aboah, while fellow Lagosian Mayowa Nicholas sported fine knit three-piece look, its royal purple and scarlet hues mirrored in the stripes of the woven pieces.
Though it may be Kenneth’s first official showing on the Paris schedule, it’s not the first time he’s shown his work in the city. His work came to industry-wide attention after making the final of last year’s LVMH Prize, one of only two designers based on the African continent to ever do so.
Even before that though, his work had attracted seriously high-profile attention from the likes of Beyoncé, Donald Glover and, perhaps his most ardent fan, Naomi Campbell. She closed the show in a fringed belted coat, echoing when she and Alton Mason -- who also walked last night -- did likewise at Kenneth’s show almost a year ago at Arise Fashion Week in Lagos. A renowned protagonist of African fashion’s cause, the supermodel and philanthropist expressed her pride in the designer in an Instagram post, and noted the wider systemic change of which he’s a driving force. “For [the] first time the seasonal collections in Paris have 3 AFRICAN DESIGNERS,” she wrote. After such a dazzling debut from Kenneth, here’s hoping that the stage is set for many more to come.