Edit & illustrations: Dané Stojanovic
Described as “Africa’s boom town”, Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria – and one of the fastest growing cities in the world – is a feast for the senses. A city of hustle and bustle, of traffic-clogged roads and crammed streets, it is a city that feeds off chaos, both in terms of commerce but also creativity.
The sprawling metropolis has become somewhat of an art destination; a collective of creatives power the city’s art scene, both vibrant and rampant. Art and design has long been part of Nigeria’s history, with its contemporaries committed to preserving traditional artisanship. Take, for example, Kenneth Ize, one Nigeria’s most promising young fashion designers.
Ize first caught the gaze of the fashion world just last year at Lagos Fashion Week, where he summoned the supermodel powers of Naomi Campbell and Imaan Hammam, who walked in his show wearing designs using the traditional Nigerian fabric, asoke. It is this, the artisanal craftsmanship and traditional textiles of his native Nigeria, which is at the centre of his eponymous label, his design journey both an exploration of – and homage to – African craft and heritage.
Dedicated to its preservation, Ize works with a small community of asoke weavers in Nigeria, reinterpreting examples of Nigerian craft to form an original perspective on luxury fashion while nurturing existing cultural practise. Through his lens, and the lens of his creative peers, the work of local Nigerian artisanship comes to life.
Here, we journey to the artistic hotbed of Lagos without a passport or seemingly never-ending plane ride to transform your decor, kitchen, wardrobe and belly with Nigerian culture – and let it come to life at home, too.
THE BOOK TO READ
Chibundu Onuzo’s ‘Welcome To Lagos’ is the perfect entry point for a cultural immersion into Lagos. Full of shimmering detail, the novel is a stunning portrayal of both an extraordinary city and of seven lives that intersect in a breathless story of courage and survival, freedom and new life.
Welcome to Lagos, Chibundu Onuzoaa. Shop now
WHAT TO EAT
Be it grilled, fried or boiled, plantains are a staple of Nigerian cuisine. Dodo, or fried plantains, are perhaps the plantain star however (because isn’t all fried food?), beautifully caramelised and a little crunchy, they are the perfect accompaniment to any rice dish (Jollof Rice, Fried Rice, Coconut Rice), or just as good on their own. Fry them up at home with this recipe from The New York Times.
THE DRINK TO DRINK
The only way to cool down that Nigerian heat is with a zesty Zobo Chapman. A Chapman is one of the most popular drinks in Nigeria, a kind of spirited non-alcoholic punch (but without the spirits). This particular Chapman is a little more floral in flavour using another Nigerian ingredient, “zobo”, aka hibiscus.
Made in Nigeria. Should you wish to channel the cultural exuberance and beautiful artisanship of Nigerian fashion, those three words should be blasted across the clothing you choose. Glorious print, punchy colour and deft handiwork is the blueprint of Nigerian style, where centuries-old tradition meets modernity most beautifully. Look to traditional Asoke weave and hand-loomed fabrics, which even manifest on polychrome mules and boxy top-handle totes. Statement jewellery is also a must, with MitiMeth, an award-winning Art Crafts and Design Social Enterprise based in Nigeria, leading the charge with upcycled jewels with a sustainable spin. The creative collective transforms natural fibres like water hyacinth, typha grass, and agro waste forms like banana bark, coconut shells and bamboo colms into sustainable fashion and statement accessories to show off. These include loom-woven textile panels, buttons, jewellery, hair accessories and home décor products that combine both the history of African textiles with a contemporary aesthetic.
Diana dress, EJIRO AMOS TAFIRI. shop now
Leather top toe mule, SHEKUDO. shop now
The Lara Box, femi handbags. shop now
WOVEN WATER HYACINTH EARRINGS, MITIMETH. shop now
PEPITA CURVE LINK BRACELET, ZIVANORA. shop now
TO ENJOY AT HOME
Enliven your abode with the uplifting cheer of African homewares. Usher in afro-pop art and the vibrant West-African aesthetic via Nigerian / German interior designer Eva Sonai’s Ijoba lamp shape, designer Kunmi Otitoju ancient-inspired Alagbede Notebook and Ilà’s Line Chair, which features an ebullient Adiré textile. And don’t forget to scent your home with Lohn Lagos’s basil flower candle, a herbaceous nod to Nigeria.
IJOBA LAMPSHADE, EVA SONAIKE. shop now
IHAYA LIGHT PENDANT, AAKS, ATELIER 55. shop now
WEWE CUSHION, EVA SONAIKE. shop now
LINE CHAIR OLOGOOSE, 54 KIBO. shop now
BASIL FLOWEr SOY CANDLE, LOHN LAGOS. shop now
The natural spoils of Africa are incredibly rich and diverse, so much so, much of Western beauty relies on native African ingredients. These soaps, oils and butters use African ingredients and recall ancient recipes and remedies to deliver modern results. Plus, they’re all made in Nigeria, an added bonus when you bathe.
ASAKWA African Black Soap with Tumeric and dara body butter, Modara Naturals. shop now
BAOBAB OIL, organic life plus. shop now
Mbira African Music – Relaxing African Chill Out Music. listen here