Thursday, September 21, 2023

African Talents Lanre da Silva, Omer Asim, Sophie Zinga, Studio One Eighty Nine, Suno & William Okpo Present Collections at Milan Fashion Week

With Milan Fashion Week just concluded, several of the continent’s top designers may still be smiling, having been invited to take part in Vogue Italia’s platforms, ‘Who is on Next?’ and ‘Vogue Talents,’ with Africa’s Lanre da Silva, Omer Asim, Sophie Zinga, Studio One Eighty Nine, (African-made) Suno and William Okpo making presentation to the world’s best press.

As part of the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI)’s platform for supporting and promoting new design talent from Africa, Senegalese brand, Sophie Zinga and Ghanaian brand (co-founded by American actress Rosario Dawson), Studio One Eighty Nine participated in Vogue Italia’s ‘Vogue Talents’ project, with triumphant and beautiful results which saw their work viewed by top fashion buyers and highly sought after press in the global fashion industry.

Designer, Sophie Zinga Sy
Designer, Sophie Zinga Sy

‘Vogue Talents’ – part of Vogue Italia’s talent scouting program – is a highly anticipated event that takes place during Milan Fashion Week each season, via a presentation at Palazzo Morando, and Senegalese designer, Sophie Nzinga Sy (the Parsons school of design graduate and founder of the Sophie Zinga label)  said of her involvement;

“I am grateful to have collaborated with EFI and to have the opportunity to present my Spring/Summer’15 collection at ‘Vogue Talents’ in the presence of the fashion industry’s key protagonists. These are the types of collaborations and initiatives which will be fundamental in revolutionising the vastly growing African fashion industry.”

A look from Sophie Zinga's S/S'15 lookbook
A look from Sophie Zinga’s S/S’15 lookbook

Rosario Dawson and communications and marketing expert, Abrima Erwiah created Studio One Eighty Nine as a social enterprise to advocate for positive social change through fashion. Since its launch in 2011, the brand has been recognised by top fashion influencers, including, Vogue Italia and the FT’s How to Spend It, which has lead to the label revealing a modern yet somewhat retro-feeling collection this week in Milan, to a room filled with fashion’s best faces.

Actress Rosario Dawson of
Actress Rosario Dawson of Studio One Eighty Nine


Co-foounder of One Eighty Nine,
Nigerian co-foounder of Studio One Eighty Nine,

A look from Studio One Eighty Nine's  S/S'15 lookbook
A look from Studio One Eighty Nine’s S/S’15 lookbook

William Okpo and ethical label Suno, by Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty, revealed a sneak peek of their collections for the special capsule line, “The Pulse of New Talent,” which is a project by Vogue Italia and Pepsi, timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the magazine.

Revealing only a prototype of their lines before their entire collection showcases in Dubai next month, the pieces were on display at Palazzo Morando’s presentation space between September 18th and 21st, for the viewing pleasure of the event’s special guests.

Sisters Darlene and Lizzy Okpo of NY-based brand, William Okpo
Sisters Darlene and Lizzy Okpo of NY-based brand, William Okpo

Nigerian sisters, Darlene and Lizzy Okpo of the youthful, NY-based brand William Okpo, were also invited to participate in the project, revealing;

“Pepsi brings us back to our early childhood and summertime backyard bbqs where all of our family would come together for good food, dancing and fun.”

A sketch of one of the designers'  pieces for the special project
A sketch of one of the designers’ pieces for the special project

“We are honored to be a part of a project with a brand that we’ve grown up seeing so much of and to have the opportunity to collaborate with them in such a creative capacity. It never dawned on us that one day William Okpo would make our favourite bubble soda drink into a wearable fashion product.”

Known for its use of print, texture and skilled local talents from Kenya, India and Peru, the design duo at Suno explained of their work on the project;

“It’s thrilling to reinterpret our brand through a variety of lenses. We wanted to do something that felt fresh, a bit tra- ditional, but also totally new all at once. We worked with denim and eclectic embroidery in classic Pepsi tones to achieve this.”

Suno's reinterpretation of Pepsi for the project
Suno’s reinterpretation of Pepsi for the project

Sudanese designer, Omer Asim was also interviewed on the collection he showcased at Palazzo Morando during the event, telling Vogue Italia;

“The collection is built on the same basis as the rest of my work on architectural elements, and primitive crafts. For a long time I have been fascinated by an ancient underground subculture Sudanese/African trance that deals with trauma, hysteria and relief. I recently discovered that there is a similar subculture in southern Italy – the Tarantella or Taranta.

A look from Omer Asim's S/S'15 "Estate" Collection
A look from Omer Asim’s S/S’15 “Estate” Collection

“Black, white and off-white [form] my colour-base, but this season I decided to add a green oily. “

And, after presenting her “Rock Delight” collection during Milan Fashion Week, esteemed Nigerian designer, Lanre da Silva Adjayi worked fashion’s top crowd, catching the attention of Anna Wintour and Margherita Missoni. After being featured in a review of the event on WWD – high achievement in itself – Lanra’s designs were also proven to have made an impact on Margherita Missoni – heiress to the infamous Italian fashion house – herself, with a quote from the heiress being included in WWD’s article.

Ms Missoni said;

“She does all her prints by herself and she has some great style. I think they’re very much inspired by African traditional suits and dressing, but it’s quite modern and contemporary and I like it.”

High praise, in deed coming from a woman who well knows her fashion stuff, coming from a line of some of the greatest ever to create.

Lanre posing with Vogue Italia's Editor in Chief, Franca Sozzanni and American Vogue's Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour
Lanre posing with Vogue Italia‘s Editor in Chief, Franca Sozzanni and US Vogue’s Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour

Among the other notable guests who turned up to the event were Alberta Ferretti and Kean and Costanza Etro,  from which it’s clear just what a spotlight the platform provided. And, while September comes to an end and we at SPICE are almost finished celebrating a month of fashion, we are proud to see these brands repping the continent so well, and are sure that the talents behind them will be busy celebrating the achievement of being involved with this highly revered platform for a while yet.

Image source: @Ldacouture,,,

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