Art X Lagos
“We’ve invited ALARA to design the VIP Lounge at ART X Lagos for the past three years, as ALARA’s take on interior design from the contemporary African perspective is truly special.”
Indeed this year visitors were treated to an homage to the ancient craft of Adiire fabric making, which echoed the in-store exhibition by Peju Layiwola. Regionally sourced furniture and throws completed the indigo infused look with raffia centrepieces and sculptures that were evocative of masquerade adorning the walls. Consistently putting a spotlight on African culture was central to the collaboration as Peterside expands:
“Over the years, through the lounge ALARA has celebrated Touareg culture, Yoruba culture and more, enchanting ART X Lagos’ audience of art collectors and enthusiasts from across the world, with a unique fusion of African luxury, heritage, modernity and style.”
As the fair develops and widens its programme of activities elements that anchor the experience are of increasing importance. New stars of the art world may be born year upon year and the scope of what is considered art might expand, but each year visitors can expect bold and engaging celebrations of what it is to be African via the lens of a contemporary designed space. And with modern design masters from across the continent to call upon as co-creators in the quest for deeper expressions of interior design innovation, the VIP lounge has become a must see in and of itself.
Roksanda Ilinčić might be best known to many as the creative director and force behind fashion brand ‘Roksanda’, but it was inevitable that this former architect (she studied at the prestigious University of Arts in Belgrade, in her native Serbia) would find herself holding her inaugural trunk show at ALÁRA, a concept store that not only stocks her brand but is also a celebrated architectural landmark in Lagos.
For Ilinčić, the event was her first in Nigeria, and provided her with an opportunity to engage directly with the myriad of fans of her designs, collections that season upon season are awash with audacious colour palettes and dramatic silhouettes – style signatures that are favoured by the resident clientele who often favour unabashed glamour.
The cream of Lagos Society flocked to the event, with notable guests from the worlds of politics, finance, media and fashion happily mingling with another including the First Lady of Kwara State Olufolake AbdulRazaq, General Counsel of ExxonMobil Nigeria, Adesua Dozie, and the Founder of Ebony Life TV Mo Abudu. The CEO of ALÁRA, Reni Folawiyo, acted as host, and ended up ‘twinning’ with the guest of honour, with the two women gamely posing for pictures for posterity. Asides from matching ensembles, Ilinčić and Folawiyo shared numerous things in common, including working with David Adjaye to create their respective flagship stores and building businesses and navigating their brands successfully without a loss of authenticity, in a fashion business landscape that is still for the most part dominated by men and continues to wrestle with issues around diversity, inclusiveness and gender parity.
After an engaging conversation, guests were able to purchase pieces previously never available on the continent, and the event which was held in the midst of Lagos Creative Season was yet another example of the importance of harnessing the ever growing cross-cultural exchanges between artists and creators from Africa and other parts of the world.
Peju Layiwola is a’ slasher’ of the best kind: a highly regarded Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Lagos, a prolific and internationally acclaimed artist who initially trained in metalwork before exploring and mastering other media, and a princess of the ancient Benin Kingdom, who instead of only focusing on participating in pomp and pageantry, utilises her social status to highlight the importance of maintaining and owning one’s own cultural heritage; most pertinently with her continuing campaign for the return of the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria. With such a broad and deep understanding of the importance of art both as a tool for social change and and a means of understanding self and others, It was inevitable that this multi-talented dynamo would hold her exhibition, Indigo Reimagined at Alara, a concept store that since opening has championed thought-provoking creative projects, that act as a window for Africa to the world.
The exhibition coincided with the Lagos Creative Season; a time that marks a convergence between disciplines. Over the course of a month Art X Lagos, Lagos Photo and the Lagos Biennial, as well as two fashion events Lagos Fashion Week and GTB Fashion Weekend and the annual film festival AFRIFF are launched, transforming the city into a crucible for artistic excellence.
The exhibition took as its starting point the ancient practise of making Adiire fabric, a process that is centuries old but has recently been popularised for a new generation by contemporary fashion designers embracing it in their collections. During a fireside chat between Layiwola and Alara Founder and CEO Reni Folawiyo, Layiwola was emphatic about the fabric being the star and the focus of attendees’ attention: “The work begins with indigo and ends with indigo…we’re paying homage to those who have pushed forward this tradition [and] celebrating fabric as a form of identity”. The immersive experience which featured double height Adiire murals hung to create a moving fabric sculpture highlighted the intricacy of the craft and how it is synonymous with Yoruba culture and aesthetics. Folawiyo also noted the importance of embracing our art history noting that the exhibition “illustrates what we had was beautiful”.
Place, as well as one’s sense of self in a location was also touched upon with Layiwola referencing the great poet J.P. Clark’s poem, “Ibadan’, which alludes to the city’s seven hills resembling ‘broken china in the sun’ which in turn is often blue and white in hue. Gender politics are also expressed via the fact that Layiwola has chosen to create pieces in indigo, when the process of making the fabric was traditionally in the male domain. The overall impression was that in the ‘re-imagining’ of an ancient craft Layiwola was expanding notions of participation in art itself. As Folawiyo succinctly put it in closing “Peju’s exhibition highlights her own versatility and also the depth, range and scope of what we could generally see as the art of making indigo.” An exhibition that occurred at an important crossroads for contemporary art in Africa, it will be long referenced.
“The work begins with indigo and ends with indigo…”
Arise Fashion Week ’19:
Cocktail Reception hosted
by Naomi Campbell
A cocktail reception was held at ALARA on April 18, 2019 to officially announce the commencement of ARISE Fashion Week. Supermodel Naomi who aims to paint a positive image about Africa and change the negative narratives for good walked the runway last year and was also present to welcome guests at the welcome party. In attendance were fashion and media industry insiders, supporters and fashion designers. Some of them included David Tlale, Tiffany Amber and Segun Agbaje.
“A cocktail reception held at ALARA and supermodel Naomi Campbell was present to welcome guests”
ALÁRA hosts Naomi
Campbell Art of
Beauty book signing
Lagos stood still for a gathering of VIP guests at the Africa book signing of fashion icon Naomi Campbell’s book, Art of Beauty. Hosted by luxury retailer ALARA, guests got up close and personal with Ms Campbell over canapés from Nok (EatDrinkLagos’ restaurant of the year).
Event partners Veuve Clicquot kept the champagne flowing, whilst Belvedere infused cocktails “Supermodel” and “The Naomi” fueled the rooftop afterparty.
The evening kicked off with event compere Denola Grey welcoming guests, and fireside chat moderator Cuppy Otedola starting a conversation about the business of fashion between Reni Folawiyo and Ms Campbell. Naomi looked back on her spectacular modeling career, charity work with various humanitarian causes including the Mandela Children’s Fund, her visit to Nigeria for ARISE Fashion Week, and meeting the Dream Catcher Kids of Ikorodu.