#NTUDEGREESHOW Spotlight: Oluwasola Olowo-Ake

This latest #NTUDEGREESHOW Spotlight piece features BA (Hons) Fashion Design student Oluwasola Olowo-Ake

From If Slavery Were A Crown, Oluwasola Olowo-Ake, BA (Hons) Fashion Design 2019
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From If Slavery Were A Crown, Oluwasola Olowo-Ake, BA (Hons) Fashion Design 2019

In the run-up to the Art and Design Degree Show, we will be sharing a series of student projects from across the 26 participating courses through #NTUDEGREESHOW Spotlights.

If Slavery Were A Crown

The idea for my concept was born whilst I was researching for my dissertation. It was centred around the fashion industry’s frequent misrepresentation of black individuals and their constant reference to ‘Negro’ slavery through campaign ads, catalogues and catwalk shows.

I wanted to change that narrative and present the black identity in a positive light. Being an international student, I decided to focus on my country, Nigeria, using its values, customs, and fashion methods to make a statement.

In this project, the word Slavery is a metaphorical term for the black race. I’m using the word as a reference to fashion’s representation of black people. Crown however, is as it appears - meaning royalty. If Slavery Were a Crown therefore means viewing the black body as royal, and all that my fashion product presents to you is how our world and the fashion industry would view and present the black race. In order to do this, I had to go back to the past, long before colonised Nigeria.

My project aims to reject western ideals in every way possible, so everything is done as traditionally as possible. Each garment has been dyed and I have focused on tie and dye methods from where I am from: Ogun State, Nigeria.

From If Slavery Were A Crown, Oluwasola Olowo-Ake, BA (Hons) Fashion Design 2019
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From If Slavery Were A Crown, Oluwasola Olowo-Ake, BA (Hons) Fashion Design 2019

I went to the British Museum to look at sculptures taken from Nigeria as loot by the British when they conquered different kingdoms. Two kingdoms that stood out to me were the sculptures of the Benin Kingdom (which is where my Grandma is from) called the ‘Benin Brass Plaques’ and the several sculptures of the Yoruba Kingdom. I was intrigued by the amount of intricacy and detail put onto the plaques and the stories they told. The idea of storytelling through symbols interested me most.

I am also looking at royalty in the Yoruba Kingdom and the King’s crown. There were specific women that made the crown, supposedly bestowing it with powers only known to them. Since I am creating womenswear, these women are telling the story of this slave who becomes King. The three outfits in this project each have names and poetry to guide the audience through the story. They are: Elusoji, the slave arose; Eluyela, the slave deserving of success; and Lufadeju, the slave because of a crown is greater. The last outfit makes noise as it represents the celebration of the slave’s Kingship.

Oluwasola Kehinde Olowo-Ake

Find out more about the BA (Hons) Fashion Design Degree Show here.

#NTUDEGREESHOW Spotlight: Oluwasola Olowo-Ake

Published on 20 May 2019
  • Subject area: Art and design
  • Category: Current students; School of Art & Design

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