Nigerian-British artist turned fashion designer Chuks Collins has dressed and designed for some of the entertainment industry’s most notable names such as Quincy, Trevor Jackson, Terence Nance, Kerry Washington, and Claudia Jordan.
He created his AW21 women’s ready-to-wear collection, The trip, participation with the Black in Fashion Council during New York Fashion Week (NYFW), presented yesterday by IMG. While many notable designers like Tom Ford chose not to attend NYFW, Collins embraced the week by revealing his collection digitally. Divided into 3 chapters, the first chapter is titled The Journey, inspired by my 5 years of previous work – which I recycled and rebuilt; the second chapter is called Dream, which is inspired by the idea of the beautiful hope of romance and Roman structural elements.
Going into his past archives, the designer has created lasting pieces as well as bespoke couture looks. Collins is part of an industry that strives to be more inclusive. As a black creator and designer, I think I can say for many of us that this type of opportunity is not easy to find and I have to commend IMG for their commitment, Collins notes. I’m grateful to God for everything, shaping me and preparing me for an opportunity like this; and I’m grateful to IMG and the Black in Fashion Council for giving me this opportunity to be a part of it.
Crafted from a wide color palette, the Collins collection is filled with plenty of white looks, but then strong pops of color are seen with silhouettes for all female body shapes. Upon closer inspection, there are notable clues to her Nigerian culture, from the headdresses to the design of the outfits. He also showcased looks from his sustainable lifestyle brand The Athletic Side of Us (TASOU), the third chapter in his collection titled I Am. Balancing street style and what is worn at home, Collins has revealed looks for men and women. TASOU is a marriage between the clean lines of New York and the geometric fractal shapes and colors of ancient modern Nigeria.
The collection was inspired by the ancient kingdom of Benin in the southern part of Nigeria and the streets of New York. Featuring real people with real stories in diversity, inclusiveness and most of all our mission to empower humanity through our creations.
From imminent death to the designer
NYFW allows designers to show their collections on a 6 million view platform, and this type of exposure is not lost on Collins. It is very crucial for us to have opportunities like this as it helps to bring more light and exposure to the creative talents of black and brown communities, and more, gives equal opportunities that create diversity and l inclusiveness we all need. Every brand needs this exposure and consumers need to have options.
Born in the UK and raised in England and Nigeria, Collins was inspired by both countries and their rich cultures. Fashion always seemed to catch his eye, but not the eyes of his disapproving parents. It was his grandmother who nurtured the love of tailoring, teaching young Collins to sew, as well as to respect women and empower marginal voices. One of the best gifts in life is being able to access both cultures. At the age of 8 I started sewing because I was living with my grandmother and she thought that although being an African child, fashion was not an option for me because my mother has memories bless wanted me to be a doctor, lawyer, or banker, so I followed suit and read accounting and finance for my first undergraduate degree – after I did some social work.
But in between doing what his parents wanted him to do, Collins was creating. Africa is the homeland of beautiful colors, fabrics and culture which has definitely influenced and still inspires me and a lot of my inspirations are still taken from different places including home. Exposure to western culture helped me tell my mom that I really wanted to pursue fashion and she gave me her blessings. And living abroad gave me a lot of references and inspired me by beautiful places, artists and architects.
A car accident nearly cost him his life, as he had to suffer from close kidney failure. This stimulating experience was a profound moment for Collins, during my recovery period after surgery – I started to suffer from depression and on one particular occasion I was admitted to the hospital on my birthday. It was a girl in the hospital who made him understand how blessed he is, despite his situation. By connecting with Housing Works, an organization that helped him get back on track, Collins began to design again. My ah-ha moment of taking the step to be a designer was finding gratitude in service and empowering others, this service was a healing way for me, and I saw a way of empowering people to through my creations. The more I design and make people look great and empowered, the happier and healed I feel. Truly for me, clothing is a tool of expression, of protection. I design clothes for every woman’s daughter and every man’s boy, who aspires to embody and express their heart, connect with their tribe and wear as armor along the way, said Chuks.
One of the ways he empowers men is by making bespoke and tailored suits. Equating tailored suits to a cloak of glory that molds, enhances and amplifies, Collins has made many men shine. Oh my God, I love making costumes. All costumes should be custom made if you can afford them, or at least custom made. It should be made especially for you with your measurements which give you the right fits.
From designing for influencers, opportunities aren’t taken lightly by Collins, these moments make you feel somewhat seen and recognized, more like your hard work is paying off. Especially in this industry where most of the time people are always interested in seeing who you’ve worked with before committing to you.
NYFW was an opportunity for Collins to gain the recognition his talent has given him as his designs will continue to mark red carpets, and also for the Collins Chuks dressed male and female for the time to come.
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