Adeju Thompson wants to change the narrative around African fashion design.
“I think that people have this one-sided idea of African fashion, and I really want to dismantle that,” the founder of Lagos Space Programme said at the nonbinary label’s debut presentation in Paris. “I want to show people that there’s so much more happening on the continent.”
The winner of this year’s edition of the Woolmark Prize, they showed the line, titled “Cloth as a Queer Archive,” alongside an atmospheric short film directed by Isabel Okoro as part of the Sphere showroom at the Palais de Tokyo.
Suits came with wide cropped pants, some trimmed with lace, that were inspired by traditional Yoruba clothing, while halterneck necklines on a crochet dress and buttoned-up vest had a fluid grace.
A boxy pinstriped suit was paired with a long shirt made with indigo-dyed Adire cloth from southwestern Nigeria, while an intricately patterned robe coat was layered over a wrap skirt. Hammered copper accessories provided an opulent counterpoint to the minimalist silhouettes.
“The Adire, it’s a way in which we told our stories for a very long time, so each motif stands for something,” said Thompson, who drew a parallel with modern-day subcultures where marginalized groups communicate through coded gestures. “I like that as a queer person, I can really tap into that.”