On the penultimate day of my holiday I was relaxing by the pool, sipping on a cocktail, and I received a message from Winnie Awa, the co-founder of andVerv. She was asking if I would like to be a model for the brand’s fashion film. The only snag was that the shoot took place on the morning that I landed back on English soil, giving me roughly five hours to get home from Gatwick (which takes about three hours alone), sleep, and then leave again. Did I hesitate to say yes? No, I most certainly did not. Running on one hour’s sleep, I’ve never had as much fun on a shoot with such a creative group of people who were all working to make something amazing. And from there, I was invited to take part in andVerv‘s first ever show at London Fashion Week.
Let me tell you a little bit about this brand and why it’s so special. Founded by Winnie Awa and designer Ebun Oduwole, andVerv is a London based contemporary womenswear brand that focuses on creating refined and timeless pieces with influences from different cultures. andVerv have been featured in Harpers Bazaar and Nataal and this season, they were the only black female designers to present at LFW.
Fast forward a week from receiving that message and there I was, at 7 am, at the Strand – the home of London Fashion Week. Only this time I’m backstage as a model.
The inspiration for their SS20 collection came from The Mbari Club created in the 1960s, during the post-independence period in Nigeria, which soon became synonymous with post-independence optimism. It swiftly became a place that would attract writers and creators from all over Africa, America and the Caribbean. It is the very place that inspired every aspect of Winnie and Ebun’s collection and presentation, and I had the privilege of modelling alongside blogger Freddie Harrell, Model Mo Queen and fashionista, Deborah Shasanya.
Photographers and attendees quickly flooded the room to observe us as we wandered around the showspace. My favourite moments were taking pictures with some of the audience, having a chat about how the clothes felt and asking what everyone thought of the show. It didn’t feel like there was a wall between models and spectators – it was completely immersive and inclusive.
The pieces were comfortable and sophisticated with striking lapels and wide-leg silhouettes in soft materials such as breathable tencel, cotton and a special cupro-modal mixed chambray. The kind of clothes I could see myself sauntering around in on my way to an alfresco lunch or a night spent dancing. Each garment allowed freedom of movement that is necessary in women’s clothing, and the versatile colour palette combined hues of pistachio green, soft pinks, warm browns and rich reds to create a retro aesthetic.
When you think about diversity in fashion month, it’s always the models in conversation, but it’s just as important that people recognise how vital it is to see different designers showcase their talent. Being part of Ebun and Winnie’s journey to Fashion Week has been an education and an honour.
Tell us about your favourite fashion week moment in the comments below.
Text: Afua Aidoo
Images: Charisse Kenion, Caoimhe Hahn