An opinion piece on the fashion statements (or the absence of) on the streets of Alté Culture Festival.
Lagos might as well be named the biggest fashion city in Africa, following closely, London, Paris and Milan, the biggest fashion cities in the world. When it comes down to turning it up and turning it out, the Lagos fashion community knows exactly what to deliver, and how to deliver.
So, what happened during the Alté Culture Festival?
While Africa is known to be rich in culture and society, a new subculture — Alté — stemmed out a while back. ‘Alté’, which derived from ‘Alternative’ as a subculture, has defined its own form. This form has gone beyond music, art and fashion. It is now a lifestyle. A genre-bending, fashion-twisting lifestyle. Alté fully champions individualistic and non-traditional modes of self-expression. The central idea behind this is to stay true to oneself in spite of existing cultural or traditional restrictions and limitations.
Though the dynamics of this subculture are mostly experimental, there is a strong hue, and aesthetic when it comes to alté fashion. An appreciative style that one can even call a vibe. And with this style, anything does just go.
So when we heard that there was going to be an Alté Culture Festival — first of its kind by the way — we had to be there because mostly, anyone aware of this phenomenon would be expecting radically sex-positive designs, or the eclectic mix of grunge, goth or y2k fashion among guests and attendees, or an immersive and mind-bending creative style experience. But what fashion statements were really made?
The Alté Culture Fest was held at Muri Okunola Park, VI, and we had such high hopes for the event. At first glance on that beautiful Sunday evening, the birds were still chirping, people were turning up in numbers, great sounds were blasting from the high-end speakers, and the sense of community was starting to build. The scenery was amazing, and the set-up was incredible. There were several innovative booths and pop-ups. It had an overall super fun and engaging atmosphere.
The music was also good. WurlD performed a soundcheck, followed by his opening number. From start to finish, the energy was high and the music gave. But even Wavy the Creator’s swag, Lady Donli’s Nollywood-inspired sentimentalisms, Falana’s gritty soulfulness, Rigo Kamp’s sex appeal, Maka’s energy, and Dj Sose’s vibe check, couldn’t make up for the unflattering fashion choices of the bulk of the crowd.
Shortly after WurlD’s soundcheck, guests started trooping in and started to underwhelm us.
We saw boring pants all the way to the least fashionable pair of jeans possible. Plain and mundane Tees could be found at every corner and uninteresting styling that were total drags, at every nook. While some were trying to give demure and monotonous looks, you could tell they struggled to zhuzh it up to meet the Alté aesthetic, and it just didn’t work.
If they couldn’t beat the knack for affirming Alté fashion choices, would it be too insensitive to ask where the sex and body positivity was? How about the nonconformity or the fashion interaction between freedom and non-traditional modes of self-expression?
To be honest, all hope wasn’t lost. Thanks to the energetic music and fun booths, for ensuring the event wasn’t a total snooze fest. Also, we spotted some guests who actually understood the assignment and gave us a thrilling experience with their outfits.
Here are a few looks that actually gave us reasons to stay back.
Nevertheless, Alté fashion is primarily rooted in defiance; expressing individual style without any rules, except for the ones laid down by oneself. This is an interesting concept given that there’s almost a rule-like aesthetic alté fashion possesses, and anything outside of that may not be categorized as alté. Alté fashion celebrates a more personal and individualist approach to style rather than the communal expectations. Perhaps, that was the assignment the guests wanted to deliver. Their own definitions of Alté.
Also, this might be a result of different conceptions when it comes to things like this, and with first trials comes experience. I hope that subsequently, in other editions of the festival, attendees will understand the assignment and give better deliveries.