Head of State’s fall 2023 collection was Taofeek Abijako’s most personal project to date, and one that was years in the making.
The designer explained that the idea behind the collection, titled “Memories of Home,” started through deep conversations with his father about his journey in the early 2000s from Lagos, Nigeria, to Spain. Abijako explained that as his father’s journey got increasingly dangerous, he decided to return home, where he soon after won the American visa lottery.
“It’s the first time I saw him cry,” Abijako said after his runway show. “I didn’t have a collection in mind. It was just more of this therapeutic moment that was needed. He started going into details about how he attempted this journey from Nigeria to Spain trying to find a better life for us. He started with 50 people and by the time he got to Libya, only about 10 of them made it alive.”
Abijako used those memories as the springboard for this collection and combined them with his own time living in Lagos as a young child, where he grew up in the city’s “mainland,” which he explained was the marginalized part of Lagos that had a view of “the island,” which was the higher income area.
He took inspiration from the architecture of “the island,” translating that into a collection full of bright hues, cutout pieces and full skirts. Abijako also gave a nod to his father’s journey by referencing water through fluid fabrics and a finale that showed a model stepping into a shower and having her dress transform into a bathing suit.
As Abijako’s father was also a fashion designer, the designer referenced some of the pieces he made for his mother, namely the traditional gown she wore for Abijako’s naming ceremony when he was a baby. Abijako explained the collection’s last three pieces — cutout dresses in a red, white and seafoam color — were his take on his mother’s garment.
“I took the silhouette from North Africa and combined it with more utilitarian and western wear,” he said. “It gave birth to a new form of identity for the clothing.”