Amid the cobbled streets of London’s Covent Garden comes an explosion of pattern, textile and colour from the historic Carriage Hall on Floral Street. ‘Between Us,’ a curated showcase of African design across fashion, accessories and interiors, has taken over the Shop at Bluebird in collaboration with Lagos Fashion Week.
With a focus on handcraft and artisanal making, this radical platform showcases an unseen design community to London audiences; for six weeks, more than twenty womenswear, accessories, interiors and lifestyle designers (predominantly from Nigeria and South Africa) take up residence in a first for the store’s Covent Garden outpost.
“I wanted to offer something for a short, limited period of time which really captures a very interesting part of the world,” says Claire Miles, buying director of The Shop at Bluebird at the launch. “This is something you don’t see in London and you won’t get all year around. It’s vibrant, colourful and energetic. There’s meaning and it’s bringing back true craft in a world of fast fashion and mass production,” she explains of the eclectic pop-up six months in the making.
Curated in collaboration with Omoyemi Akerele, the Founder and Executive Director of Lagos Fashion Week, the ambitions of ‘Between Us’ are twofold: it allows designers to “grow their market” by providing designers direct access to London’s consumers, and furthers the mission of Lagos Fashion Week - to raise the profile of African designers at home and beyond.
The pioneering venture includes input from brand consultants Tammy Tinker Pudel and Katrina Macpherson, both based in Cape Town. As Pudel outlines, the continent has had no small role to play across global aesthetics attesting to the timeliness of the project: “Africa holds a profound vibrancy that has inspired so many creatives across fashion, art and design - from the landscapes and the light to the incredible depth of culture.”
ORDRE talks to Claire Miles, buying director of The Shop at Bluebird as well as three featured designers who illustrate the breadth and fluidity of design from Africa: jewellery designer Titi Abiola of Tilayo, Tenioye Majekodunmi of accessories label Eclectic Chique and Fiona Mackay of womenswear brand Karu.