By: Bernard Dayo
Continuing with digital presentations as a workaround due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerian-based androgynous brand Maxivive unveiled its ready-to-wear ‘21 collection at Milan Women’s Fashion Week, a first for a Nigerian brand. Accompanied by a short fashion film titled Sunshine, Lollipop, Rainbow, the collection is glued together by the concept of freedom. Naturally so for a designer like Papa Oyeyemi, Maxivive’s founder and creative director, who for more than 10 years has been interested in the disruption of gender and infinite permutations of expressing oneself, whether through bold colours, fabric choice or off-kilter tailoring.
Against a night sky, the film shows models in a state of high energy, breaking into zippy dance movements and lit by a bonfire. There’s no dialogue, only pumping techno beats. Close frames of two same-sex couples (male and female) hold each other lovingly and kiss, a rebellious motif given Oyeyemi’s homophobic homeland of Nigeria.
‘’It’s on such grounds we bask in the glory of sunshine. Scorchy or mild, bathing in all its essence, feeling the intensity of love that beams upon our lives while savouring the flavours enriched in lollipops, palettes as bright as rainbows,’’ are words from the show’s press notes. The clothes themselves reflects this intent to be free, to come off unhinged. Harnesses, fleece tights, lace, including a two-piece beachwear. A shirt is reworked to give the wearer a peek of shoulders, and easily covetable is a blouson jacket in prominent colours of blue and orange.
There’s more to Maxivive than just rethinking paradigms of gender, the first Nigerian brand to upend the international fashion season range, championing resonant weather patterns coined as Wet, Dry, and Harmattan. ‘’Because there’s nothing like autumn or winter down here, is there?’’ Oyeyemi asks rhetorically, ‘’So someone has to represent what we have here. That was very important to me.’’
With the pandemic still prevailing and considering the limitations it has imposed, Oyeyemi is using clothes as a means of escape, articulating a sense of unrestriction and joy. It’s evoking what’s like to feel again and physically interact, however socially transgressive those interactions are.
WATCH: Maxivive 2021 - Sunshine, Lollipop & Rainbow