Fruche has released the look book for its critically acclaimed Spring/Summer 2020 collection. The collection draws on freedom as the theme for this season and is inspired by Agbogho Mmuo, a festival held in Nigeria’s Igboland.
Agbogho Mmuo is an annual performance held in the northern part of the Igbos’ traditional territory. Performed only by men wearing masks, the masquerades imitate the character of adolescent girls, exaggerating the girls’ beauty and movements, the smallness of a young girl’s features and the whiteness of her complexion, which is an indication that the mask is a spirit. Most maiden spirit masks are decorated with representations of hair combs, and other objects, modeled after late 19th-century ceremonial hairstyles.
Igbo culture in pre-colonial times was a culture in which gender was reconstructed and performed according to social need, where gender and sex did not coincide. Instead, gender was flexible and fluid, allowing women to become men and men to become women. In most cases, Igbo women did not cover their chest areas. Maidens usually wore a short wrapper with beads around their waist with other ornaments such as necklaces. Both men and women wore wrappers.
The idea that men were free-spirited and able to celebrate femininity is admirable. These men dressed up in elaborate costumes and had fun without a care in the world. Nowadays individuals who are different are disinvited from a world where being basic is the new form of dress-up. Fruché aspires for a world where free-spirited Nigerians are free to express themselves whichever way they choose without the fear of being judged.Statement from the Brand
Used in the collection is ‘Akwa Ocha’ (White Cloth), which is made from locally produced wool and is usually made into a wrapper. This fabric is worn mostly during important occasions like weddings, meetings, and funerals. The cloth, which is hand-woven by women, is very strong that it can last for hundreds of years. Inspiration for the collection also came from religious dressing to depict African traditional religion and the designer’s catholic upbringing. The designer explored silhouettes inspired by cassocks and nun’s habit.
The collection also has hand-dyed Adire silk and cotton fabric with symbols and colours inspired by Mmuo masquerade costumes and Ben Enwonwu’s Agbogho Mmuo paintings; handwoven Asooke fabric (indigenous to the Yorubas); hand-beaded pieces inspired by red coral beads (worn ceremonially by the Igbos); puff sleeves inspired by Igbo women’s cultural attire; chantilly lace and end of line denim which were sourced locally.