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Amaka Osakwe of Maki Oh; The Nigerian Designer in Whom Michelle Obama is Well-Pleased

When the First Lady of the United States,Michelle Obama aka FLOTUS not only takes special note of your designs, but goes ahead to don it, and then invites you to a Celebration of Design featuring her favourite designers, you are most definitely doing something right!


Amaka Osakwe, the Creative Director of Maki Oh, is the award-winning designer and trail blazer who is doing Africa proud with her one-of-a-kind creations utilising African textiles ranging from adire to aso-oke.

Founded in 2010, Maki Oh, is a womenswear label whose design ethos is to ‘challenge prevailing notions of beauty… Aroused by a strong sense of identity and African culture, the brand creates alluring conversational pieces that fuse traditional techniques with detailed construction.’

Awarded ‘Designer of the Year’ 2012 by the Arise Magazine Fashion Week, Amaka Osakwe has grown the Maki Oh Line in leaps and bounds, with famous clients that include American singer and DJ Solange Knowles, actress Leelee Sobieski and Nigerian TV presenter Eku Edewor, and of course, the American First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama in Maki Oh
Michelle Obama in Maki Oh

Operating out of Nigeria, yet globally acclaimed, Amaka’s textiles are hand-dyed painstakingly using indigo leaves as opposed to industrial dye. Her collections are constantly lauded by fashion critics the world over, with descriptions like this one at the Arise New York Fashion Week 2013;

This was a collection to make women feel powerful and men weak at the knees. Her key shapes – pencil  skirts, loose tops, blouses, wide trousers and shifts – were realised in adire, hand painted with doll-like faces and eyes; velvet; and sheer textiles in shades of seashell, porcelain, maroon and indigo. But the real thrills were supplied by the ase-oke and raffia fringing, which swung in strategic tassels, creating erogenous zones across the body. []

A graduate of the Arts University College at Bournemouth with a degree in Fashion Studies, she has opined that the inspiration for her 2014 her ready-to-wear collection was…

‘Imagining a woman at her mirror, reciting the song lyrics: “Tell me, I’m the only one, even if you choke.” She asked herself if the woman in the mirror was mad or not and was influenced by point-counterpoints like madness/un-madness and love/anti-love. []

…Talk about eccentricity and inspiration lying in every corner and under every bushel.

Amaka Osakwe 1 bella niaja

For those of you who thought that there was nothing new to be discovered in African fashion, think again…with the Amaka Osakwe’s of Africa, we are just getting started!

And if you are that designer wondering about the when, the how, the where? Just get started with that local fashion show…one step after the other.

Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya
Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya
5 Things You Didn't Know About Jennifer in 2015: 1. Her newest collection of short stories, 'The Curious Case of the Small Pikin & Other Stories' is available on 2. She ported from Blogger to WordPress and shares her uncensored thoughts on 3. She is an aspiring Filmmaker & Talk-show Host[ess] 4. She's a mother of two, wife of one and daughter of God. 5. She plans to travel around the world in less than 80 days... Now you Know! Find me on Twitter: @jennynkem

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