Mr. Mickey hanging out with some male models backstage during Lagos Fashion Week
I consider myself an adventurous traveler on some level. I'm a middle-aged gay American and I like a nice hotel with a comfortable toilet and a minibar but I'm a big cheerleader for traveling to exotic places, and Africa especially. I'm an African Queen! I've been to Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Angola and this fall, a publicist friend emailed me about going to Lagos for their fashion week. I only had two questions: Is it business class? and Can the flight be from a SkyTeam airline because I'm platinum on Delta.
After a fourteen-hour flight, and an autobiography about Margaret, the Duchess of Argyll -- who, by the way, was supposedly a famous nymphomaniac -- I landed in Lagos. The city was sprawling and the traffic was crazy. But the roads were basically great and for such a big city, it was very clean. My hotel was in a part of the city called Victoria Island and was a two-minute walk to where all of the fashion week stuff was happening. I also learned that there's going to be a big, manmade island like the kind they have in Dubai built in that area. It just looked like a slab of sand in a funny shape.
Looks from the Tae show
The fashion shows were at night and my favorite designers mixed traditional African fabrics and prints with more Western silhouettes. There was a line called Tae that uses very African fabrics but super Western shapes. That was one of my favorites. I also loved Samson Soboye, Orange Culture, Ituen Basi, Mai Atafo and Iconic Ivanity. There were tons of Nigerian movies stars and tons of photographers at the shows but one thing that was different from the shows in New York or Paris was that some people were able to pay to get in.
Off the runways, I really liked the fashion I saw on the street. People seemed to have great looks wherever we went. There were tons of women with long, straight hair, parted down the middle, and I loved all of the headwraps I saw. I've also never seen so many Céline bags in my life. There were men in traditional outfits but the fabrics would have sequins. Everyone loves, loves, loves color. Bright, bright colors. Even the women in super Western clothes were in bright yellow or orange. There weren't a lot of people in black. I met this guy who owns a great concept store called Stranger and he only wore Yohji Yamamoto and he stood out like a reverse clown. He looked amazing but it was the opposite of what everyone else was doing.
Baby on board, Lagos-style
I saw a lot of fabulous style when we went out at night, too. We went to this club, Sip, with some locals. It was literally like walking into the craziest hip-hop video you've ever seen. There were big, muscle-y guys grinding with sexy girls in sailor-type hot pants.The girls do love to dress up - there were a lot of girls in tight, tight dresses that barely covered their butts. They really went there. I was impressed that the city has such a vibrant, fun nightlife.
I also went to this new, hipster lounge/club called Privé that was super fancy and had dinner some nights at locals' homes, which was amazing. One night, I went to the home of this woman who's on the board of directors of Fashion Week for dinner. Nigerian food is not super vegetarian-friendly - they love fish and lamb - but I had great rice and beans and plantains. I'm embarrassed to admit this but on other occasions, the group that I was with ate at Johnny Rockets. That was one of the only restaurants near the hotel and where the shows were and we went there twice.
Cute guys spotted on the street
On my last day in Lagos, I went to some fabulous stores. I went to this place called Temple Muse, which is like the Colette of Lagos. Like a lot of the best stores in Lagos, it was in a very nice neighborhoods in, like, a house. It feels like you're going to someone's house behind a gate and the fancy neighborhoods all feel very Beverly Hills or Bel Air. Temple Muse had candy and books and Cire Trudon candles and Lladró figurines - which sound horrifying but were actually fabulous - downstairs. Then upstairs they had home items and clothing. They had a mix of African designers like Iconic Ivanity, Tebazile and Ituen Basi and international brands like Pucci and Givenchy. They also carried one of my favorite African lines, Iconic Invanity, which is designed by this woman that gives off a Tina Knowles vibe. The line is very sparkly and there's a lot of embroidery. Stranger, the store owned by the guy who wears head-to-toe Yohji, was also very cute. It was very 'concept' because I was a bit like, "I don't know what's for sale." They had a coffee bar in the back and a cute little room full of vintage.
Even though young creatives told me that they wish the government would do more to support the arts, it seems like it's a good time for them to make things happen and a lot are coming back to Lagos after spending time abroad. Cities like Lagos remind me of New York in that they're big, energetic centers of fun and glamour and craziness and insanity. But I come back to New York - and I love New York - and I feel like it is what is while places like Lagos are zooming. They're the headed towards the future.
All photos via Instagram