Maki Oh’s Virgin collection explores the idea of perception, creating a fictional character to investigate the limits of sanity and insanity: a woman who constantly repeats to a lover – or a mirror – phrases such as “tell me I’m the only one, even if you choke;” “whisper to me softly;” “never tell me no.”
The brand’s founder and director, Amaka Osakwe, compares these repetitive actions to the common human behaviour, particularly within relationships, to constantly seek validation and re-validation. “Does this make us insane?,” Osakwe asks. Developed under Maki Oh’s practice of respect and love for couture and traditional artisanal practices, the collection uses the traditional Nigerian fabric aso oke which is hand woven on a wooden loom. Commonly used threads include cotton or silk, but for this season Osakwe experimented with lurex threads, “in line with the ‘reflective’ inspiration behind the collection and to update a traditional practice.” The sentences repeated by the fictional character are translated into Yoruba and hand-painted on aso oke silks. In I came to myself in a dark wood, a dress from the collection, the upper fabric is silk shantung with a cut-out technique especially developed by Maki Oh. This is lined with two different shades of nude silk to form a wood motif, which in turn refers to the mind games experienced in the opening quote of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy.