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Paris cheers Naomi Campbell and Nigeria’s rising fashion star

Nigerian Kenneth Ize made a storming Paris fashion week debut Monday with his “fairy godmother”, supermodel Naomi Campbell, closing the showing.

The 29-year-old, who has had a meteoric rise to the Paris catwalk, lavished praise on the ageless British model who he said had supported him “from day one”.

Both were cheered by the fashionistas as the end of the show.

“I am living my dream,” Ize told reporters backstage after the show on the opening night of Paris fashion week.

“Naomi made this happen. She has been part of the journey since day one. She is very supportive. She is my fairy godmother,” he declared.

Ize has made an name for himself reinterpreting traditional West African fabrics such as the aso oke cloth woven by the Yoruba people, and his autumn winter collection was full of it.

He told AFP that the show was inspired by his memories of going to Catholic church in Lagos with his mother, with everyone in their Sunday best outfits.

– Black hearts –

“It is about my religion, love, who I am, the people I believe in and sharing,” he added.

It is a big week for black African designers on the Paris catwalk with the South African Thebe Magugu, who won the LVMH Young Fashion Designer of the year prize, getting a special official presentation slot Tuesday.

Last month Cameroonian creator Imane Ayissi made history by becoming the first black African designer to be admitted to the elite ranks of Paris haute couture.

Like Ayissi, Ize is a champion of traditional African fabrics and techniques with the LVMH prize jury — where he lost out to Magugu — praising his “authenticity and the fight to source and produce locally in Nigeria”.

Ize also reflected African silhouettes with tunics worn over trousers. “I believe in the way I dress, this is who I am,” said the designer, who partially grew up in Austria, where he studied in Vienna under the Turkish Cypriot British designer Hussein Chalayan.

Earlier, South Korean designer Kiminte Kimhekim sent out a playful black and white collection centred on black heart motifs, with one model even sporting a heart-shaped hairstyle.