Given my somewhat scathing review of Obakki’s F/W 2011 Vancouver presentation, I’m thrilled to write a glowing one a year later. Truth be told, a lot of it has to do with a back-to-basics approach the brand took, not only in the clothing construction, but in the way the garments were presented. When a young brand prepares itself for the world stage, it is crucial to let the clothes speak for themselves, rather than getting wrapped up in the fussiness of theatrical drama and buzz terms like “effortlessly cool,” which sadly brought upon the cliched ’90s heroin chic vibe to the last show.
Obakki made its New York debut quietly but confidently, relying on the designs to do the work. Yes, as with all Obakki collections, there was a story behind the clothing and it’s not a pretty one. It is one of the war and destruction of South Sudan, a place where the brand’s Creative Director, Treana Peake, and the Obakki Foundation have been making rebuilding efforts for the past few years. While the inspiration is commendable, the business of fashion is ultimately about selling beautiful garments, and there were plenty.
Peake chose to incorporate the story of South Sudan through subtle hints in materiality. The show opened with a plush jewel-toned combination of teal and blue, suggesting the fertility of the land. Then it moved onto references of drought and cracked soil, with rough wool textures that made for fantastic fall outerwear. Going back to the notion of sell-ability, there probably isn’t a woman out there that wouldn’t want to wrap herself in a simple black and ochre wool wrap coat with leather piping and a slim leather belt.
Obakki’s signature draped dress made multiple appearances, strongest in its spicy red iteration, the kind of shade that exudes the feeling of a fiery fever. But perhaps it was the simple basics that made the most vigorous statement, like the impeccably tailored charcoal coat with a deep V neckline that is a true example of one of those “investment” pieces we expect from luxury brands — Obakki’s strongest piece to date.
Images couresty of Obakki.