Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been turning heads since she first started modeling in the 1980s, but for Nigerian fashion designer Chukwuma Ian Audifferen, her appearance at the Arise Fashion Week 30 Under 30 showcase got his attention for another reason.
Naomi Campbell closed the runway show in my piece and it was sublime, said Audifferen of the December event, which celebrates young African designers.
The 30 year-old said he was startled when he saw the supermodel strutting down the runway in Lagos, Nigeria in the geometric poncho. I had no idea that she was going to wear my piece. She looked like perfection. Audifferen is one of his career highlights, and it is a surreal moment in a hyper-competitive industry.
He said that it was one of those moments that made fashion so worthwhile for me.
After high school he studied microbiology at the University of Lagos, a career he said his father was keen for him to pursue.
Audifferen's interests didn't lie in lab work, so he interned for Lagos Fashion Week and Arise Fashion Week, a competition for young designers hosted by Nigerian media group Arise. It gave him a taste of the fashion world and he was eager for more.
After graduation, Audifferen began making shirts. He said people bought these items off my back. I'd worn a shirt that I had made to an event or somewhere, and they would just want it. He decided to put together a small collection, and in 2014 he founded Tzar Studios. He said that the initial designs were resplendent and flamboyant with a variety of bold and clashing prints and colors. Audifferen began working on womenswear in 2018 and focused initially on menswear and androgynous unisex pieces.
His designs are more minimalist: The ethos of Tzar Studios is pretty much comfort and functionality, he said. I believe that when you're comfortable in your clothes, it's a confidence booster. He returned to Arise Fashion Week that year, but this time as a designer. I had worked backstage and coordinated the models, but now I'm on the runway showcasing my pieces. He said that growth is something he sees.
Naomi Campbell told CNN that Arise Fashion Week is an important event to elevate these designers and give their work global exposure.
Campbell said that it's been long going on for too long that designers on the continent have not gotten a platform in the fashion capitals of the world. We have excluded this part of the world and other emerging markets because of the fact that fashion is not supposed to discriminate. Campbell said that they need to know that they're recognized and appreciated in the world of creative fashion, like all the other young rising stars in fashion capitals.
It's easy to quit. It's so easy to say, 'Oh, I'm done, this is too much, because it's overwhelming,' Audifferen said.