“In Nigerian culture, there are daily rituals around getting dressed and feeling good beyond special occasions. And that’s true regardless of your gender,” says Kenneth Ize, one of eight finalist designers with a chance to win the $300,000 for this year’s prestigious LVMH Prize taking place in September at the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris. His autumn/winter 19 collections that were submitted to LVMH, is composed of menswear separates that honor month-long traditional Nigerian Christmas celebrations referred to in Yoruba as Aso Odun – the term means “top cloth,” and it was traditionally a status symbol reserved for the most special occasions. Within Yoruba communities, Ize explained, the work of master weavers is highly regarded, and families often pass down fine fabrics as heirlooms or use them to create traditional Nigerian formal wear. As a youth, ‘the anticipation of seeing what flashy Aso Odun outfits his mother had picked out for him and his siblings months ahead of the festivities informed the way he conceptualized his designer clothes. Calf-length plaid blazers and suit trousers with fringing at the bottom appeared subtle enough to wear for Christmas dinner but extravagant enough to get the dinner table talking.’ “If you’re not dressed a certain way before you leave the house here,” he says, “then you’re simply not leaving the house.”
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