by Bliss Blessing Chukwuma
Victoria Omoronike Aduke Folashade Thomas-Fahm is Nigeria’s first woman to start a Ready – to – wear line in contemporary African Styles.
Madam Victoria Omoronike Aduke Folashade Thomas-fahm popularly known as shade Thomas-Fahm was born on the 22nd of September 1933 in Lagos State to the family of Bankole Ayorinde Thomas and Elizabeth Olaniwun Thoma.
She attended St. Peter’s School, Faaji, Baptist Girls School Araromi and later New Era Girls College all in Lagos State.
Shade’s love for fashion began at the age of 12 when she started learning how to sew from a local dressmaker in Lagos State whose shop was called ‘sisi sewing shop’.
In 1953, Shade moved to England to study nursing but was inspired by the boutiques in London, so she decided to study fashion design instead at the St. Martins College of Art and Design, London, UK.
She graduated and became a qualified fashion designer in 1959, becoming the first Nigerian Woman to acquire a Professional Qualification in Fashion Design.
Madam shade Thomas-Fahm Nigeria’s first Fashion Designer set the pace for the Nigerian Fashion Industry in 1960 through the 1970s. She also is the first Nigerian woman to own a boutique she dubbed Maison Boutique, later (Shade’s Boutique).
Madam Shade defined Nigerian style in the 1960s and was known for her use of indigenous fabrics. Her reevaluation of indigenous textiles and silhouettes came at the emergence of Independence for many African Nations and Women, symbolizing an affirmation of the African Culture and Identities.
Shade Thomas-Fahm is the originator of several outfits including women’s kaftan, the Ajuba style now popularly known as the “boubou” a style she reimagined and created when she feminized the male “Agbada” for women by reducing the volume and the transformation of the Iro into a wrapper like skirt.
She also is the Founder Fashion Designer Association of Nigeria.
Asides being an iconic designer Shade was also a model. She worked for big brands in England, including Lux Beauty Soap, London Max Factor Cosmetics 1957.
On the 22nd of September 2021 Madam Shade Thomas-Fahm officially launched her Legacy Project Campaign as she celebrated her Eighthy Eight (88th ) birth anniversary.
She was honored in 2022 at the V&A Museum London in an exhibition that celebrates the Irresistible Creativity, Ingenuity and Unstoppable Global Impact of Contemporary African Fashion.