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Contemporary Nigerian Brand Onalaja Walks on the Wild Side for Its SS21 Collection


Nigerian ready-to-wear womenswear brand Onalaja specializes in what the founder and creative director, Kanyinsola Onalaja, likes to refer to as “wearable art”, on her recent appearance in an episode of the ‘Our Folklore’ podcast. The result of this is seen in dramatic, elaborate dresses that wouldn’t look out of place on a red carpet, but are designed to be accessible to modern women leading multidimensional lives.

The inspiration for the spring/summer 2021 collection by the contemporary brand is pulled from the African continent, but also from the disco glam of the 1970s as displayed in legendary New York club Studio 54, and style icons Diana Ross and Cher, two favorites of the designer.

Incorporating various shades of browns, metallics, burnt oranges, reds and deep purples that complement the primal pattern, the “Into the Wild” collection is a perfect balance of the designer’s African and Western inspirations. This theme leans into the idea of survival, especially after the world went through a life-threatening global pandemic.

Shop the Zusi Embellished Leopard Mesh Dress

Many designs, such as the Zusi leopard-print dress, include mesh and beading, two opposing elements that have been employed to create a balance. The hand-painted and hand-beaded garment is the result of more than 300 hours of craftsmanship by local Nigerian artisans, a demonstration of Kanyinsola’s dedication to presenting traditional African designs and techniques in a new, modern light.

Shop the Malia Abstract Leopard Print Blazer and Malia Abstract Leopard Print Pant

The collection makes liberal use of the animal print in abstract ways that don’t obscure the origins. The fiery red hue of the Malia blazer and matching pants makes a striking statement, and is artfully versatile – it would look at home both in a boardroom and at happy hour.

Nou Pleated Metallic Camisole Dress by OnalajaShop the Nou Pleated Metallic Camisole Dress

Other pieces in the collection go the high-shine route, with metallic gold dresses that are designed to dance the night away in. The Nou pleated gown is a floor-sweeping design that perfectly balances the brand’s African roots and Western sensibilities.

Crafted from layers of hand-cut metal sheets and beaded sequins, the Talitha mini dress is a fun and flirty cocktail dress that makes dressing up for a night out an effortless affair.

Shop the Talitha Beaded Sequin Mini Dress

The SS21 “Into the Wild” collection by Onalaja is now available on The Folklore. Discover the new pieces and shop the collection here.