My father played an integral role in shaping my career. He encouraged my creativity and always supported me where he could. In my preteen years, I would take his clothes and my mother’s scarves, deconstruct them and fashion hand-sewn rudimentary outfits. When he found out, I was scared he would scold me but instead, he gave me more of his clothes including suits and old work shirts to practise with.
‘Ode to Gabo’ pays homage to my late father who passed away in 2021. His nickname was Gabo, coined from Gabriel. He had been ill for a couple of years before his passing. These past years have not been the easiest for my family. Through it all, I’m thankful for all I have achieved so far in my field with their constant emotional support.
The burial was a particularly draining process for me, but even in my grief, I was surrounded by beauty. My brother and I would take an okada (commercial motorcycle) from our village Idumuje Unor, to Isieluku market to buy things we needed and although I am deathly afraid of motorcycles, it was always very therapeutic passing those fields where life seemed to flourish. I took inspiration from the refreshing simplicity of village life and the clarity it offers, incorporating the greenery, grass, farms and raffia into the collection. These elements lent a distinct flair to the looks this season and serve as a memento of the time we spent in the village burying my late father.