Alára is a concept store situated in Victoria Island, Lagos. Since its launch last spring there has been lots of buzz surrounding the boutique so I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. I must say that this feature is particularly tricky as Alára can’t simply be described in words, but must be experienced. Enough rambling, let’s see how well I fare…
Alára is much more than just a luxury boutique. Every aspect of Alára connects to a greater message; a celebration of design and art whilst also showcasing African artists and designers. How does it differ from the Browns and Barneys of the world? Alára makes sure to present the work of both established and rising artisans and designers, including those of Nigerian descent. You’ll see mannequins donned in homegrown classics like Ituen Basi alongside edgy names such as Maki Oh.
But don’t think you won’t find your Valentino this, and Balenciaga that. Alára is stocked up on the latest and best of what the fashion world has to offer, arguably even giving boutiques in Paris and Milan a (long-awaited) run for their money. Don’t worry men, you’re covered too. From trainers to tailored suits, Alára caters for the modern day man with an eye for fashion.
And it’s not just clothes. The store also has what I might describe as an “Urban Outfitters-esque” edge. You can find the coolest novelties from coffee table books on Fela Kuti and Chris Ofili, to Polaroid’s, candles and fragrances. Venturing up the quirky mini steps is also an education of sorts. During my visit, I learnt of the artist Raqib Bashorun who makes most of his works out of wood and metal, and who I may never have otherwise come across. This multi-faceted experience is something I love from any environment, let alone one where you can also pick up some killer heels. This is where Alára is uniquely interactive with its shopper.
Everything you see at Alára (minus the building) is on sale. From the beautifully crafted furniture and wall art to the delicious macaroons at the counter. But let’s discuss the actual building for a second. Designed by David Adjaye, it encapsulates what Alára is to me, the forward-looking and ground-breaking future of Nigerian design. Different is happening and you heard it here first.
Fashion, check. Art, check. And Food? Coming soon! Alára will be opening both a café and restaurant in the next year and we all know how well retail therapy and food go together. And if the food is as good as the fashion, it’s safe to say we’ll be gaining a few pounds. But as I said… you truly have to experience Alára for yourself, everyone will take it in in their own unique way.
Over the next week find out what happened when JTO and Alára collaborated on a Lagos shoot and what my top Alára picks are.
Words and Photos by Temi Otedola
Special thanks to Alara!