Friends, family members, fashion designers and artistes converged on Capital Club, Lagos, recently, to celebrate the 88th birthday of Shade Thomas-Fahm and the launch of The Shade Thomas-Fahm Legacy Project (STFLP) with the title Shade’s Boutique Revisited.
The event comprised an exhibition of Shade Thomas-Fahm’s works as a teaser for the exhibition planned for December, featuring over 30 of Nigeria’s best fashion design talent.
Also, it set in motion a series of events in recognition of her legacy as Nigeria’s pioneering fashion designer of the 1960s and 1970s. Event partners include Arise Play, Pedro’s Africa, Belverdere Vodka, and Capital Club Lagos.
The Shade Thomas-Fahm Legacy Project celebrates Nigerian culture, identity, and entrepreneurship, through a woman who championed these notions at the momentous period of Nigeria’s independence. Through her eponymous fashion label, Shade’s Boutique, established in the 1960s, Shade Thomas-Fahm promoted a Nigerian style that had not existed before, and she did so in Nigeria and around the world. Through photography, literature, film and events, the STFLP tells her larger-than-life story about her fashion, cultural, social, economic, and political achievements.
The V&A Museum London, United Kingdom, has publicly recognized Shade Thomas-Fahm as a “Fashion Vanguard” and will be honouring her in their “Africa Fashion” exhibition, which opens on June 11, 2022.
The exhibition runs for a year in the UK (until 2023), after which it will travel around the globe to major cities and key destinations (until 2026). Global attention resulting from the V&A Museum’s exhibition will attract the eyes of the world to Lagos once again. The STFLP aims to utilize this unique opportunity to tell the authentic story of a Lagosian’s innovations and entrepreneurial excellence.
The V&A Museum London (United Kingdom) will also induct into their permanent collection, six of Shade Thomas-Fahm’s original designs so that her work can be studied in perpetuity by current and future generations.
Dr. Christine Shaw-Checinska, Curator of African Diaspora Fashion, V&A Museum, said: “Shade Thomas-Fahm is often referred to as ‘Nigeria’s first fashion designer’, who set the pace for the Nigerian fashion industry in the 1960s and 1970s. As a self-described industrialist and entrepreneur, she shattered the expectations of what a woman’s role could be in post-colonial Nigeria.”
The STFLP is putting together a collection of local events and activities to celebrate Shade Thomas-Fahm because it is crucially important that her story is also told here in Lagos – that she is celebrated locally in addition to the international goodwill that she garners.
The event will serve as a ‘media parlay’, laying out the scope and importance of the STFLP goals in the lead-up to the V&A Museum London’s exhibition.
Other elements of the STFLP plan to look forward to are the publication of the 2nd edition of ‘Faces of She: The Shade Thomas-Fahm Memoir’. The original published in 2004 has been reviewed and quoted by academics all over the world. This re-edition will mark the 15th year anniversary and will offer newly added stories, photographs, fashion insights, and more. The book would be launched later in the year (currently scheduled for November 2021). In addition, a coffee table picture book is also in the works, offering over 150 vintage images from Shade Thomas-Fahm’s personal archive, showcasing her work, Nigerian society in the heyday of her career, her travels, and life.
December will conclude this busy year for the STFLP with a major fashion exhibition at the Civic Center Lagos. Over Wednesday the 15th and Thursday the 16th of December, the exhibition entitled “Shade Thomas-Fahm: Culture Fashion” will feature fashion exhibits, a fashion show as well as a fashion award show. Several of today’s most talented designers such as Deola Sagoe, Lisa Folawiyo, Folake Akindele, Lanre da Silva-Ajayi and more, have at various times acknowledged the influence of Shade Thomas-Fahm, will showcase their talent in this unique look at the Nigerian fashion industry. Designers from the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN) and student designers from the Yaba College of Technology Lagos are also integrally involved in this exhibition which promises to have something for every generation.
Continuing on into 2022 the STLFP will be releasing a film documentary in conjunction with media partners Arise Play in the run-up to the Africa Fashion exhibition held at the V&A Museum in London.