By Oris Aigbokhaevbolo
Outside of the expansive hall, guests chatted, awaiting the show. Inside, mostly unoccupied two-tone furniture contrasted with multi-coloured lights and coloured screens. Further up, adjoining the stage, the bare runway awaited occupation.
The Event was Fayrouz’s L’Original Expression Show finale; venue, Oriental Hotel. Scheduled to feature a fashion show and several musical performances, the show began 2 hours late, but made up for lost time with an engaging programme.
As entrée, Toke Makinwa interviewed ‘fabulous people who were dying to answer questions’ in between spins of 90s music. And later as the event began, the music switched to contemporary Nigerian music. Figures such as Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Cool FM’s Gbemi, who doubled as mixologist, DJ Sose, Omalicha, Zik Zulu Okafor, Yaw, Monalisa Chinda—about whose complexion IK said ‘this is not a product of whitenicious’— could be seen.
Singer Chidinma took to stage, performed a capella before DJ Spinall furnished her with a beat to serenade the audience with her hits Kedike and Emi ni Baller. Thereafter IK, popular Big Brother Africa host, took the stage as MC and while bantering with guests, explained how the Fayrouz L’Original contest was whittled down to 2 from over 300.
These two groups, Loud Tribe and Elan, comprising undergraduates, were mentored by Mai Atafo and were in competition for the final prize. Guests ate and drank as the pair of contestants, each having a designer, a photographer and a makeup artist, came onstage to applause.
The theme, as declared by Judges Mai Atafo, Kunbi Oyelese and Katarina by Kinabuti, all renowned designers, was carte blanche—the contestants could create imaginative designs. Team Elan used single solid colours and rather familiar patterns with minor deviations, the catchiest being a frontal quadrilateral slit on a gown. Red and white featured prominently for both male and female designs.
“I could easily be in Paris or Milan,” Mai Atafo said in praise of Elan’s design.
“I could see a James Bond look,” said Katarina by Kinabuti, the only foreign judge.
Team Loud Tribe lived up to their name with more invention, mixing up colours and parading a saintly lengthy gown as well as a scandalous mini; but met with muted acclaim and ambivalence.
The singular high praise came from Atafo. He praised the team’s eye for commerce, saying “a lot of this would go from the runway straight to the red carpet.”
A performance from Phyno and a heavily contested auction using restricted currency, the rouz, interspersed the catwalk and eventual prize presentation.
Starting off with Alobam and concluding his set with O Set, rapper Phyno rocked the stage. And IK’s auctioning entertained as an ‘April by Kunbi’ dress sparked a bidding war eventually won by emotional blackmail and hundreds of thousands of rouz. Mai Atafo gave out a second three-piece suit when the only one up for auction seemed destined for a bidding controversy.
By 11pm it was time to announce the winner. IK invited Mr. Lauren Meyer, International Brand Manager for Fayrouz and Brand Manager Nigeria, Ms. Nnenna onstage. Mr. Meyer gave a brief speech.
Mai Atafo, then announced Team Elan winners “with a point difference”. Well-wishers got on stage to embrace the team as cameras clicked away. Team Elan held up the jumbo cheque for 20,000 dollars. Team Elan will subsequently got an automatic entry into the International Lagos Design Fashion Week.
Team Loud Tribe got 4,000 dollars.
Fayrouz had promised a night of fashion and music. The former fulfilled, the latter came to a head with Wande Coal’s engaging performance. From Booty Call to Taboo to Babyface, the erstwhile Mo Hits member thrilled the audience. Sweaty and dancing vigorously, guests seemed to forget it was a fashion show for the 30 minutes Mr. Coal was on.