Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been turning heads since she first started modeling in the 1980s.
But for Nigerian fashion designer Chukwuma Ian Audifferen, her appearance at the Arise Fashion Week “30 Under 30” showcase got his attention for another reason.
“Naomi Campbell closed the runway show in my piece and it was sublime,” said Audifferen of the December event, which celebrates young African designers.
The 30-year-old said he was “startled” when he saw the supermodel strutting down the runway in Lagos, Nigeria in the geometric-patterned poncho. “I had no idea that she was going to wear my piece. She just looked like perfection.”
In a hyper-competitive industry, the “surreal” moment is cemented in Audifferen’s mind as one of his career highlights.
“It was one of those moments that made fashion so worthwhile for me,” he said.
From backstage to onstage
Audifferen didn’t always want to be a designer. After high school, he studied microbiology at the University of Lagos — a career he said his father was keen for him to pursue.
But Audifferen’s interests didn’t lie in lab work, and during his studies, he interned for Lagos Fashion Week and Arise Fashion Week, a competition for young designers hosted by Nigerian media group Arise. It gave him a taste of the fashion world — and he was eager for more.
After graduation, Audifferen began making shirts. “(People) bought these items off my back,” he said. “I’d wear a shirt that I had made to an event or somewhere, and they would just want it.”
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