Saturday, September 17, 2011

NYFW Spring 2012 - Jewel by Lisa Made in Africa RTW Runway Review

Total looks: 18

When Jewel by Lisa entered the scene in 2005, few could have predicted embellished tiered skirts would usher in one of Africa's most recognized and loved brands. With that love at an all-time high, JBL seems to have taken the liberty to chart new courses - a welcome, fruitful soul-searching indeed - but what does this mean for JBL enthusiasts who may be accustomed to a certain way?

While the JBL label takes its global appeal very seriously, it was surprising to see a first of its kind return to roots for Spring 2012, with vintage photographs (JD Okhai's in particular) and Nigeria in the 60s influencing silhouettes and mood. Think of this new direction as a sampling platter of a modern take on heritage and tradition, taking JBL on a new journey with lace (she tries it on for size, it seems, and it's a perfect fit - more, please), traditional menswear silhouettes common in Western Nigeria, with more than a pit stop in a colonial heritage of safari chic, and an array of custom prints, ranging from the abstract 'dancing women' (a moment of pure genius) to a joyful array of candy colours.

Detail shots via Vogue It

Several pieces carried a lady-like air and grace (an olive lace dress with a print underlay, duly belted), while others dipped in menswear territory but with a feminine tilt - the opening look of a femine take on the male agbada in yellow lace was a stunning tribute. Granted, it was a detour from a quintessentially sexy, cool ethos, but once the bling showed up on shorts and minis and low cut backs were revealed, part of that instantly recognizable air returned. Yet, this revamped JBL also had a painfully chic silk safari suit complete with a matching fila; the fila itself an unusual inclusion for a label known for delectable beaded statement necklaces and box clutches (the latter fully reloaded for Spring). Colours ranged from brown to brighter pinks and yellows, but the overall spirit wasn't a restrained, joyful one - it seemed serious and grown-up in many of the looks. Notably, dresses were the prevailing look, followed closely by dazzling separates, but we desperately hoped for one of JBL's undoubtedly chic jackets, which the inspiration for this season, sadly, did not accommodate.

While wax prints and silk prints were conjoined in previous collections, Spring 2012 sees them stand more alone as separate, complimentary entities, with  pieces you might not easily pick out as JBL if you weren't told - a maxi print dress with military pockets, for instance. Granted, wax print was combined with lace strips as an exciting new take on JBL's signature patchwork-like motifs. Nevertheless, this collection was a bold step in a new direction, it seems, as JBL turns a sharp corner in its aesthetic in what was came off as a boldly experimental collection, sampling various elements - same ol' JBL girl, but in a different era entirely and significantly more mature. Truth be told, we sometimes felt a little lost and unfamiliar - this showcase included many of the usual suspects, but they don't seem completely at ease with new inclusions (or at least not yet). A case of clinginess to the old on our parts, perhaps. The hope, though, is that next season, a clearer, more interdependent showcase will result from this sharp turn in the right direction.

- SLiq

Images: Getty Images via Bella Naija


Gidan Nodza said...

Loving the caps.

xoliquoricexo said...

Hey Amina :-) I think they were a nice touch. Would be great to see how they translate off the runway.