A beautiful evening cooled by gentle harmattan, proved to be the setting for emerging global fashion voice Papa Oppong’s landmark December 28 show, For the Birds.
There had been a month-long buzz about the night, and we had defied heavy traffic characteristic of this season. And now, we just anticipated the start of the event with baited breaths. This fearlessly gifted young designer and illustrator was collaborating with Nathaniel Bio and Lawdin Ghana to make, perhaps, the most significant statement in Ghana’s fashion terrain and beyond. Would he succeed?
Because of the title for the showcase, patrons were unsure what to truly expect. These creatives have, in the past, impressed fashion lovers immensely with their solo projects, so people had come out to be impressed! Of course, you’d have pockets of sceptical ones who were there with their own marking schemes. But that was okay.
I could spot the light rays from Accra’s breath-taking fashion address, Untamed Empire, where the event was scheduled to hold. When I first heard of venue for the program was, I thought it was perfect.
The event gate was supposed to be opened at 6pm and the showcase to commence at 8pm. I got there an hour before commencement. I would say this was one of the most exciting moments for me last December.
I met Papa Oppong about 3 years ago when I was a producer at a radio station- Live FM. I remember when Papa walked into our studios; very humble but at the same time, exuded power anytime he spoke. I saw a gem in him! Prior to my meeting him, I had been stalking his social media pages. I mean, this was a young fashion illustrator who had gotten mentions from celebrities like; Lana Del Rey, Kelly Rowland, Rosario Dawson, Amber Rose, and constantly been associated with Rihanna, Rihanna oh. He has soared above his peers right from the onset.
Now back to the show. As they say, “people make the world go round”. The sheer number of people who turned out lends credence to the power of social media. I met countless faces I hadn’t seen for months…years, even. It was a great opportunity to network with new people as well as catch up with the old ones we know.
Attendees were greeted by truly artistic lighting and setup: there were flashing images of American singer Lana Del Rey on the screens. There was also a lot to drink from new beverage outfit Tea Baa, which had set up a stand at the premises. It was a gathering of the very crème. It’s not a good habit to stare, but I kept stealing glances at people, their choices of colour combinations, and the dynamic ways in which they utilised accessories.
And so, the moment finally arrived, and with an announcement, the show began. All we heard were two commanding voices; male and female, narrating a story. It was gripping. Tensions were high, and the suspense was tactile. The sound theme and effects augmented all this. And then, there it was: a big cage which had 6 birds (models) in it.
The narrators who could only be heard and not seen, delivered their lines expertly, with their theatrical inflection of words and compelling voice modulations. They were so good that we thought the voices were recorded. The plot details the story of a black widow being interrogated by a seasoned detective. Written by Gene Adu, the character was played by Princess Fathia Nkrumah, whose voice kept resonating across the audience. Mikey Ashkar played the role of the detective, and the suspects were these birds in the cage!
The black widow had a distinct description for each “bird” which stepped out of the cage to showcase their iconic coats. The birds were portrayed by Robin (Nylla), Dove (Gifty Sackey), Sparrow (Karen Abiba), Flamingo (Herty), Canary (Fame), and Raven (Miss Julee).
Compelling lighting complemented the storyline perfectly. We thought we had seen all the night had to offer…till the cage started levitating! A truly breath-taking spectacle, patrons (as if by command), brought out their smartphones to capture this moment in photos and video. I simply got drowned in the beauty of the moment, and every second passed with a dense feeling of awe.
The show ended with all 6 birds lined up in regal high fashion coats amidst a standing ovation and loud cheers, and Papa’s own emotions culminated in a long meaningful embrace with his mum.
I left the place feeling very fulfilled, like I had been part of something historic. That all this was conceived by young Ghanaian creative filled me with even more joy. Ghana indeed has a great future.
*Architect Kojo Kagyah built the cage, lights and effects by IAmAdinkra. Scriptwriter/ script director Gene Adu, Hamid of Afroface made sure the ‘birds’ looked great with his makeup and hairstyling skill. The art direction was by Mr Hesse and Phoebe Yoda. High fashion coats by Papa Oppong, Nathaniel Bio and Lawdin Ghana. What an incredible team they are!
See more photos of the event below:
Photocredit: Asephua (Vine Imagery), S_tage (Charles Lawson)