Esé Azénabor NYBFW SS24

Review by Lauren Weeks
Images by Victoria Bruno Studios

Champagne flowed and blushing roses flourished as Esé Azénabor’s latest glamorously “Enchanted” collection hit the runway. True to Azénabor’s trademarks, the looks were fit for storybook royalty with the extravagant textiles, heavy embellishment, and flattering silhouettes that we’ve come to expect from the acclaimed self-taught designer of the eponymous haute couture brand.

A romantic blushing arch ensconced by live roses in pale pinks, creams, and hints of gold met a luxe white marble runway for Esé Azénabor’s “Enchanted” Collection runway for her Prêt Mariée line. The designer’s latest showcase certainly lived up to its namesake, invoking fairytale visions of luxury royalty with each breathtaking look encrusted almost completely in crystals and pearls. The runway was intimate, seating excited guests in cosy rows at the designer’s own atelier as champagne flowed freely. The excitement to see Azénabor’s latest offering was palpable in the air – the designer has made noticeable waves within the bridal couture world since confidently self-starting the brand in 2012. She rapidly rose to compete with established bespoke bridal haute couture ateliers and is sought after by brides worldwide for her famously heavily hand-beaded and exquisitely embroidered gowns. Azénabor does not disappoint when it comes to drama, and for this designer, more is most certainly more in terms of designing show stopping looks for her evening wear and bridal clientele.

The latest collection presented a widely varied offering of gowns, with something for absolutely everyone. Themes of Azénabor’s signature heavy embellishment, trademark statement shapes, and unconventional textile combinations ran throughout to make for striking garments seamlessly fit for a red carpet event or a chapel aisle event alike. It was abundantly clear that the brand also creates bespoke commissions for the most glamourous of clients – each individual Prêt Mariée garment stood out for a different reason, seeming almost a personalised custom order to a unique bride’s fancifully fabulous dream.

The assorted aesthetic of this “Enchanted” collection might not at a quick first glance appear set to a cohesive theme, as most seasonal showcases are. However, Azénabor took an unconventionally brilliant approach; in actuality, the collection held beautiful structural unity in its inspiration taken from memorable fairytale and folklore figures. Each look revolved around unique character references to the cult-favourite female protagonists that it was named for. Included in the star studded lineup were storybook icons including princesses Mulan, Cinderella, Jasmine, Belle, Ariel, Aurora, Tiana, and Nala. With a diverse team like this, every bride has the ability to feel like an absolute princess on her wedding day through Azénabor’s intricately embellished cast of these regal namesake gowns, no matter her favourite fairytale.

However, Azénabor did not discriminate in her inspiration. The designer also pulled imaginative motifs from legendary villains such as Ursula, who made an appearance in the collection by name alongside these protagonists. More niche namesake references to figures in animated film iconography included Marie from the Aristocats, Faline of Bambi, Wendy from Peter Pan, Charlotte of the Princess and the Frog, and even minor character Taffyta from Wreck-it Ralph. These auxiliary characters were not forgotten in the expansive collection, which truly had a little bit of everything magical spun together within a singular stellar showcase.

Perhaps the most notable looks from the lineup included “Aurora,” “Olive,” “Tiana,” and “Amelia.” The Aurora gown featured a gossamer, iridescent structured plisse bodice with a loose sleeve that was juxtaposed with a coil-embroidered pearled skirt that was almost sheer. Olive brought a unique colour story to the collection, with a dramatic contrasting palette – a dark nude fabric base was covered neckline to floor with striking stark white lines that traced the body for an edgy combination of vintage, African, and contemporary European influences masterfully indicative of Azénabor’s trademark work. The Tiana piece brought typical bridal beauty into a modern lens with its detachable flamboyant hip bustles that exaggerated the figure, in a flattering shape made of standout netted and embellished fabric. The exquisite textiles used in the Amelia design also spoke for themselves, as a feathered delicate top with a square shape floated above an equally geometric full frilled layered tulle skirt – a sophisticated corset back, side crystal applique, and amplified waist flare brought the look together on the body in a complimentary way from front to back.

​Whether looking to make an unforgettable fashion statement or live out a childhood dream of a fairytale with their Prince Charming, brides considering Esé Azénabor’s artistry for their special day won’t be disappointed. Azénabor’s goal is to “empower women through the art of fashion,” and the lauded haute couture designer most certainly knows how to make every bride feel like a princess with her newest captivating Enchanted showcase.

Writer: Laur Weeks @Laur.Weeks
Photographer: Victoria Bruno
Designer: Esé Azénabor @eseazenabor
For: VPRCOMMAG @vprcommagazine
PR: Atelier PR @atelierpr