“I was stunned.” How did Naomi Campbell surprise a Nigerian designer on the catwalk?


Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been a center of attention since she first entered the modeling world in the 1980s. But for Nigerian fashion designer Chukuma Ian Odifferin, her appearance at the Ariz Fashion Week show caught his attention for another reason.

“Naomi Campbell closed the runway with a piece of mine that looked amazing,” Udiffren said of the December event, which celebrates young African fashion designers.

The 30-year-old explained that he was “stunned” when he saw the supermodel swaying on the catwalk in Lagos, Nigeria, in her geometric-style “poncho”, adding: “I had no idea she would wear my design. She looked perfect. “.

Amidst a highly competitive industry, this “surreal” moment was ingrained in Audeverin’s mind as one of the highlights of his career.

“It was one of those moments that made fashion worthwhile for me,” he said.

Naomi Campbell
Supermodel Naomi Campbell wears the gown by Tzar Studios that now bears her nameCredit: Adedamola Odeta

From backstage to stage

Odifferin didn’t always want to be a fashion designer, and after high school he studied microbiology at the University of Lagos, a profession the designer said his father wanted him to pursue.

But Audeverin’s interests did not lie in laboratory work, and during his studies, he trained at Lagos Fashion Week and “Arise” Fashion Week, a competition for young designers hosted by the Nigerian media group “Arise”, which gave him a glimpse into the world of fashion, and he wanted to get more .

After graduating, Audeverin started making T-shirts, and people wanted to buy the T-shirts he was designing and wearing to an event.

It was then that Audeverin decided to design a small collection, and in 2014 founded the fashion brand Tzar Studios. He said the initial designs were “shiny and stark”, with a variety of bold and contrasting prints and colors.

Ariz Fashion Week
Simple and elegant with muted colors, Audeverein’s designs prioritize a more comfortable and functional styleشكل Credit: Christopher Okoigun

Audefrin initially focused on menswear and unisex pieces, and in 2018 also started working on womenswear.

Now, his designs are getting simpler, and he noted that the ethos of the Tzar Studios brand is very much in comfort and functionality,” adding, “I think when you’re comfortable in your clothes, it boosts confidence.”

That year, he returned to Ariz Fashion Week, this time as a fashion designer. “I’ve worked behind the scenes and coordinated the models, and years later, I’m on the catwalk showing my work, and I see that as growth,” he said.

After making his catwalk debut in 2018, Audevren says his designs are beginning to gain more recognition. He has appeared in fashion magazines including Vogue, and his work has begun to attract the attention of Lagos fashion experts.

The booming fashion sector in Nigeria

Audiverine has become a major player in Nigeria’s burgeoning fashion scene, spotlighting a growing number of young designers. Of the 30 designers selected for the Covid-compliant fashion week in December 2020, 23 were Nigerian, including Audeverin.

Naomi Campbell
Audeverin renamed the piece that Naomi Campbell wore on the catwalk a “Naomi Poncho”, describing the moment as one of the highlights of his career.Credit: Sunday Alamba / AP

Naomi Campbell told CNN that “ARIES” Fashion Week is an important event to help raise the bar for these designers and give their work a global exposure.

“I feel like a long time ago, designers on the continent didn’t have a platform in the fashion capitals of the world,” Campbell said, adding, “Fashion is not supposed to discriminate, yet we have excluded this part of the world and other emerging markets.”

Campbell has long been a supporter of African designers and creators, using her powerful influence as a celebrity to draw international attention to events such as Arize Fashion Week and its young designers.

fashion show
A model walks the runway of Tzar Studios during Aries Fashion Week 2020Credit: CNN

Campbell makes no secret that she is ‘excited’ by the unique work of African designers, which she describes as designs ‘nowhere else’.

“They need to know that they are recognized in the creative fashion world, like all the other rising stars in the fashion capitals,” Campbell added.

While Nigerian designer Kenneth Eze won the 2020 runway show, Udfferin said the event was “amazing” and that Campbell’s wearing of his design on the runway, now renamed “Naomi’s Poncho”, reminded him of his perseverance over the past decade.

“It’s easy to withdraw, it’s easy to say OK, that’s too much, because it’s overwhelming, but moments like that make it worth it.”


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