Mai Atafo: Spotting Potential in Artistic Collaborations [LEMONADE]

Beyonce Laolu
Beyonce- LEMONADE Visuals (Face paint-Laolu Senbanjo)

Beyonce, unarguably has the power to break the internet less with just her body but her entire body of work. The most recent successive internet drop that has fans, stans and haters alike in frantic frenzy is LEMONADE, the visual album.

Beyonce Lemonade
Sacred of Ori painting by Laolu Senbanjo

The hour-long visual preview of the album, broadcast on HBO, has Beyonce taking viewers through a string of poetic resonance and highly charged visual aesthetics. With her platform, she presents the audience to an already known cast of star players, like globally known super athlete Serena Williams and former Disney child star Zendaya, making outrageous cameo appearances….cue Serena twerking for B while she sits on her throne!

twerking Serena for Beyonce

New to the global audience the Beyoncé effect avails you to Somalian poet Warsan Shire and Nigerian lawyer turned artist Laolu Senbanjo whose recent art project “Sacred Art of Ori” makes several visual appearances in the LEMONADE visual anthology.

Peot Warsan Shire
Artist Laolu Senbanjo

Much like Beyonce’s past and present enthusiasm to merge art, fashion and music, Nigerian fashion designer Mai Atafo is a futuristic trend dictator.

Creative Director, Mai Atafo

Mai Atafo created an androgynous collection, a fusion of cultural inspiration majorly from the traditional male attire from the “south south” of Nigeria and an understanding of the female form to create what he called “Etibo Woko” for Spring/Summer 2015, a wearable androgynous and culturally forward collection.


He is front lining production innovation by taking a cue from Savile Row to mastering the craft of menswear tailoring by being the first African Designer to employ the Savile Row Academy to further train his tailors at his factory in Lagos, Nigeria.

Dreamscape by Laolu Senbanjo on Mai Atafo’s Spring/Summer16 WomanUP

Mai Atafo much like Beyoncé, sees how art can be a pool of inspiration. Beyoncé uses Laolu Senbanjo’s Sacred Art of Ori as an African undertone for the “Back to the Roots” vibe seen is some of the videos featured in LEMONADE.

Mai Atafo’s WomanUP featuring Laolu Senbanjo’s art: Dreamscape

Mai in his last Spring/Summer 16 collection “WomanUp” a western inspired collection for his women’s wear line played on menswear tailoring and vibrant colors like mustard, blue and red, plays on artistic fusion first (shades Beyoncé).

Dreamscape by Laolu Senbanjo
Dreamscape by Laolu Senbanjo

Mai collaborates with Laolu Senbajo by commissioning his art work: “Dreamscape” for print which was featured in the WomanUp Collection.

According to Mai, The collaboration ties the collection back to Africa and celebrates the spectrum of creativity that radiates from Africans around the world and of course the colors from his art piece spoke to me.”

Talking drum inspired bags for the Etibo Woko

Whether it’s via collaborations on accessories for his collection or the fusion of music and dance in his presentation, Mai Atafo is one of the few African creatives who constantly finds new ways to push the boundaries of fashion by introducing innovation and fresh twists, either through the clothes directly or via presentation.

Mai Atafo closing his Spring/Summer 16 show at LFDW 15

As credits go to the global sensation that is Beyoncé, let us take a moment to celebrate one of our own who with his platform that strives for collaboration and unique brand partnerships that all together show the creativity of Nigerians and collectively Africans.

Mai at MMR
Weddings by Mai at Music Meets Runway 2013