Maki Oh


Maki Oh: Fall 15/16

Maki Oh’s Autumn Winter 15\16 collection explores the idea of adopted identities as result of West Africa’s long history with cultural appropriation. It is an idea that has spun through all Maki Oh collections. Dutch Wax lends itself as the starting point of this research.

“As an advocate for all things truly African, Maki Oh uses true African textiles like Adire, Aso-oke, Akwa Ocha, Oja and more to continue to illustrate to the world (and Africans) that we have desirable, couture quality local textiles. Ankara fabric (Dutch Wax) does not have it’s origins in Africa. It is imported from Holland, India, Turkey, China and even England. But the world, and even some Africans think this fabric is African. Holland’s Vlisco’s current website proudly states “VLISCO HAS BEEN ROMANCING THE MEN AND WOMEN OF CENTRAL AND WEST AFRICA FOR ALMOST 170 YEARS AND HAS BEEN EMBRACED AS THE VERY FABRIC OF LIFE IN MANY SOCIETIES.”

This season, Maki Oh dissects the fascination and perception of these fabrics as African, along with other concepts that have been imported from other continents and have found home in West Africa. The idea of the African mermaid, Mami Wata is of particular interest, as it originated from a photograph of a Samoan snake charmer that appeared on the coasts of Nigeria in 1887. This image of a beautiful, long-haired woman holding a snake captured the imagination of West African indigenes who then projected meaning and symbolism onto the photograph, forming a powerful cultural myth around it. This is how simply and astonishingly the idea of Mami Wata was formed.

full collection

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic



Seeing this collection, there’s no questioning why she was invited to meet Michelle Obama as part of Obama’s most admired fashion designers.

The collection infuses traditional adire prints into soft fabrics in shapes that are familiar territory for Maki Oh – the boxy top, the midi, tapered shirts. Silk has always had a place in her collections but here she adds rich cottons and dense, spongy honeycomb mesh. (source)

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

Maki Osakwe, designer of Maki Oh

Nigerian designer Maki Osakwe has been doing big things for a minute, and we’re not the only ones admiring (and coveting) her collections.  She spoke to The Man Repeller about why she wants to hold on to Nigerian textile traditions and how she feels about designing clothes for women. Here are some highlights, click through for the full interview:

“Each Maki Oh piece has a hidden meaning. [T]his is taken from decades ago when traditional clothing in Nigeria was worn to pass messages. It’s a secret conversation sometimes within oneself, or other times between the wearer and the observer.

“As each season goes by I gain more respect and fall even more in love with everything WOMAN. I love being a woman. Every Maki Oh collection has been inspired by women, from street-workers to nuns. If you love women, then I believe you can’t help but be a feminist too. Maki Oh collections all express feminist views in different doses.

We [at Maki Oh] don’t care much for how society defines beauty. Every season, we try to create and find our own ‘beauty’ in subjects that don’t fit within society’s definition of it.

(by Derica Shields)


Maki Oh Fall 2014

Of all the names to turn up on the short list for the brand-new LVMH Prize, Maki Oh is perhaps the most surprising. Designer Maki Osakwe’s presence on the list is richly deserved, but as a designer based in Lagos, she remains outside the range of fashion industry groupthink. That makes her something other than a usual suspect for a Paris-based fashion competition, but it also helps account for the utter distinctiveness of her work. Osakwe always premises her collections on a story, and this one, she explained, came from her imagining a woman at her mirror, reciting the song lyrics, “Tell me I’m the only one, even if you choke.”

Further, Osakwe really upped her textile game this season, developing a traditional Nigerian aso-oke material with Lurex thread; pulling luxe gobs of fringe out of selvedge; and translating prints, such as her Yoruba translation of those song lyrics, into hand-appliquéd lettering. There’s a certain naïveté to Osakwe’s work and you sense the hand of the artisan, but the intelligence and aesthetic sophistication guiding her process is so keen, the pieces never come off as artsy-craftsy. Well done. - By Maya Singer

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

Spring 2015 Trend: Do the Shag

Photo by Isa Wipfli

Designers toughened up the Sixties groove for spring with hardware details on dresses, graphic textures and a decidedly rock-star attitude. Here, Azede Jean-Pierre’s cotton bra and Maki Oh’s polyester skirt. Paco Rabanne shoes. On him: Dior Homme’s wool turtleneck and Topman’s cotton jeans. Saint Laurent shoes.