The 24-year-old designer Taofeek Abijako is having a sophomore album moment with anticipation of his second fashion show. His debut collection, “Homecoming,” was an eternal moment that celebrated Blackness and beauty within the familiarity of home. “I’ve done a show before, but for some reason, it feels like I can’t remember how to do anything this time,” he tells ESSENCE. The nerves were getting to the designer as we talked off-camera in his studio office. Everyone was focused and getting ready for the big day. I got to speak with him just a few days before I’d be once again immersed in his world-building.
The Fall/Winter collection titled “Memories of Home” is in homage to his father, who is also a designer, and his journey from Lagos to Spain to the U.S. after winning a visa through a lottery system. Of course, the show took place on Valentine’s Day —strategic, but also, I feel to show on a day of celebrating love parallels his love for his father and both of their perspectives of home and what it means.
I was expecting to be just as amazed as last year, with Nigerian and Western-rooted design techniques and an earnestness to show the world who Taofeek Abijako is and what giving back to his community looks like on and off the runway.
Walking into Spring Studios, guests were wired with excitement and anticipation. Among the guests were Abijako’s mentor Bethann Hardison, editors, friends, and family — all there to support the vision of a young Black man with an important narrative. The show began with a model walking out barefoot in a white dress with a mesh cut-out in the front and structured lettuce hem. The pieces in this collection were very intentional, as were the colors, conveying a larger story of home, travel, and belonging. Abijako’s notes recalled his father’s feelings as he traveled illegally to Spain in search of a better life like many immigrants with dreams for better for their families, “Along his journey he began having vivid dreams of home… the air back home, the textures, conversations, and architecture.” All of which Abijako was able to convey in this collection. The colors were reminiscent of the textures in the desert, the waters he sailed to cross borders, and the lands he saw.
This show truly moved the audience, with Abijako once again creating another infinite moment, and this time for his father. The storytelling was like nothing I’d seen before. As the show went on, I noticed a few other models weren’t wearing shoes to reference that “on foot” journey. The last model to walk wore a fully sustainable dress that was disintegrated by water once she entered the water booth in the center of the runway. She seemed to represent the spiritual element of his father’s dreams and the end of his journey to Spain to turn back home. The show soundtrack, created by producer Donis, was an integral part of the storytelling with traditional sounds of Nigeria and the serene introspection of water and nature.
“I almost cried” or “I got so emotional” was the main things said at the final walk of all the models. I, too, was emotional with my own set of immigrant parents. That story hit home, as I’m sure it did for many. Abijako’s sophomore New York Fashion Week show was once again a success and a true dedication and intersection of himself and luxury. His designs were so well-detailed and embodied exactly the story he wanted to tell.
At the very end, Abijako was met with his father’s warmest embrace, filled with tears of pride and joy. Dreams do come true.
See the collection below: