“This season, we’re going into no man’s land,” State’s head creative director Taofeek Abijako told Hypebeast ahead of the Fall/Winter 2023 runway show. By that, the Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based designer means that he writes entirely new codes of style, with reference to (his favorite) French author Éduoard Glissant’s study of the origins of the Creole language. “I am drawn from my own upbringing in Nigeria, which is completely different from my life in the US,” he said. “I combine these two cultures and try to write my own creole.”
According to the brand’s notes, the Head of State’s FW23 collection chronicles the journey of Abijako’s father, Nureni Abijako, from Lagos, Nigeria to Spain. In 2004, Nureni, also a fashion designer, attempted a “quite illegal” journey across oceans and deserts in search of a better future for his family in the west.
Responding to the elements, he used clothing as a means of survival, fashioning new jacket pockets for food and creating storage components in his soles for money. When he arrived in Libya, however, Nureni’s sad dreams for his family turned his compass back home – where just months later, he won the US visa lottery. Thus, the collection earned its title: “Memories of Home”.
“If you can use clothing as a form of survival, that’s design in its truest form,” Taofeek said. “I wanted to address that aspect of functionality in this collection.”
On Tuesday, the Heads of State’s show opened with a series of white ensembles: billowing dresses with wire construction to hold their shape, asymmetric tops and knit sweaters over collared shirts and tulle skirts. A short-sleeved button-down shirt had striking lapels and buttons of various sizes, and a true blue shirt showed through a sheer poncho-like construction, highlighting Taofeek’s utilitarian approach.
The same sheer fabric connected the tops to the bottoms in a series of feminine silhouettes. A men’s suit was finished with a corseted waist, like the one Evan Mock wore to last year’s Met Gala “Gilded Glamour”. Speaking of Mock, she hit the runway with stunning acrylic nails and a unique, long braid. His all-black look included a button-up coat and trousers split at the leg.
Tank tops were often cut and cut into experimental shapes. An orange iteration, in particular, left a piece of breast on display over straight pants in a slightly darker shade. Buttons, on the other hand, usually reached a large size. A chunky red pattern, with a folded collar and full-length white stripes, was draped over a long-sleeved knit and trousers in a monochrome fashion.
Overall, the collection is contemporary in appearance and rich in history. For Taofeek, “Memories of Home” is deeply personal, but intended for those who share parts of his experience. “This is for kids who look like me, kids who belong to the diaspora, kids who have multiple identities,” she said. “It’s about the ongoing journey of discovering your identity.”
Take a look at the head of state’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection in the gallery above.
Elsewhere at New York Fashion Week, Thom Browne FW23 let the quintessence of American fashion tell an intergalactic story.