Saturday 3rd October

| BY Paul Toner

Kenneth Ize: Ready-to-Wear SS21

It’s hard to believe it was a mere nine months ago Kenneth Ize made his Paris Fashion Week debut. It’s even harder to fathom how this was the designer’s debut in the first place. As the likes of Imaan Hammam, Lindsey Wixson, Adwoa Aboah and Naomi Campbell sauntered down the catwalk in Ize’s signature handwoven checks – made from a traditional Nigerian fabric called Asoke – the fashion press came to realise that this is not a star in the making, but one already beamed high in the sky.

With an LVMH Prize nomination under his belt, as well as a designer of the year win at African fashion festival Arise last year, the Austrian-Nigerian designer was quickly snapped up by Karl Lagerfeld‘s eponymous label to produce a capsule collection, due to come out April 2021. It was with his first paycheck from the mega team-up which Ize used to buy his first plot of land where he has now built and opened his own factory in Ilorin, Nigeria, which is already the biggest weaving factory in the country.

It was here the designer crafted his SS21 collection, his strongest outing to date. Held at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, models moseyed through the space as the Parisian artist Maty Biayenda painted a live mural across the backdrop. Ize’s signature striped, narrow tailoring was adapted into flared suit trousers, sixties sleeveless blazers and rhubarb and custard hued tunic dresses with fringing at the hem. The latter were additionally textured by a new technique developed by one of Ize’s 30 weavers, which involved picking at each piece’s threads.

This season also saw the inclusion of artist Fadekemi Ogunsanya, who adorned organza shirts with painterly spirals. These were worn by boys who painted their lips a vivid raspberry red, and their eyes an electric shade of blue. The designer uses his practice as not only a celebration of his Blackness, but of the LGBTQIA+ community too. When speaking to the press, Ize brought up the fact the Nigerian law still punishes same-sex relationships by up to 14 years of jail time. Ize creates clothes as an act of defiance, and he does so in glorious technicolour.

Photography courtesy of Kenneth Ize.