Alára Now; The Hijabi Exhibition changing how fashion experienced

When Alára announced the Hijabi exhibition with this edition of its event, Alára Now, I was instantly sold. 5 years ago, this haven of contemporary African art launched to redefine luxury and put a premium on African art & craft especially through fashion retail. Since then, the space has expanded from retail to the true crux of its existence, hosting events like art exhibitions, book launches, fashion shows, industry lectures to dinners, and even yoga classes on its beautiful rooftop. 

Not many places execute experiences the way that Alára does and this may be because it in itself is an experience space. Reni Folawiyo created Alára to be the premier destination for luxury fashion, art, and lifestyle experiences rooted in contemporary Africa and that is the first thing that jumps at you from the door; contemporary and all things African. The goal this time was connecting with the Hijabi Community, spotlighting their rich culture and artistic expression through fashion, art, and digital programs.
Image via Alára

Wearing Africa proudly like a badge, the exhibition welcomed guests with memorabilia celebrating African fashion through history. There were books full of information like the Sacred Art of Odu Ifa, Nigeria 100: Lugard to Jonathan, Africa in Fashion, including photo spreads of runways, prominent designer stories like the story of Virgil Abloh’s collections and most fascinating clothes, all from African brands like This is Us, Eki Kere and more  on posed mannequins. 

Books and Memorabilia for sale at Alára

The pop-up

During the exhibition, the space was host to several modest fashion brands; Turban Tempest, Neematai, Hue, Pinkfleur, Mirella Broggi Daughters, Aminda Official, Ywande Lag, Nifa Studios, Remi Wahab, Hertunba, Turfah Official, Mairachamp, Ihunaya and Lois Regalia. All these brands had one thing in common; they all serve the Hijabi community whom this exhibition was focused on. 

Items for sale at the pop-up via Alára

The photo exhibition

All of this was a wonderful side experience that surrounded the real deal, the photo exhibition by an array of photographers showcasing the beauty and artistic expression of the Hijabi community with flowing scarves and skirts in vibrant colours worn by women in bright smiles and powerful poses. The photos were a display of the choice that is modesty and the strength in making that choice, it was a story of women, in many states of their being, expressing themselves as vulnerable and true. 

An overview of photographs at the exhibition via Alára

Among the photographers, some were commissioned artists while others were submissions following an open call. We saw Aisha Hamasani, Azeezah Oyeleke, Fatima Danjumah, Hauwa Eeyman Mamman, Naomi Mukadi, Abdulrauf Umar, Abubakar Sadiq, Aderopo Afolabi, Ameer Umar, Damilare Adeyemi, David Sonowo, Godiva Omoruyi, Ikleemah Babangida, Artsi Ifrach, Medina Dugger and my personal favourite, Selena Saleh. 

Selena Saleh’s 9-photograph series via Alára

Selena Saleh’s piece, a series of 9 images, was the highlight of my time here. I was in awe of the visual clarity, the beauty and the emotions behind the subject’s eyes. This piece spoke of intensity, passion and a tad bit of sadness, my heart reached for this woman, like I knew her. Like we were the same people. I wish I could speak more of each art piece as I experienced it but at the end of the day, you cannot explain art, you only have to experience it to be convinced like I was that these stories are worth telling just like the Hijabi community is worth celebrating and Alára did such a wonderful job of it. If you’re like me and you love looking at clothes, this will be a perfect time to visit Alára at 12A Akin-Olugbade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. 



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