I published the original version of this review on Thursday, May 12th, but since Blogger decided to accidentally delete it, here is a new version.
Obakki is without a doubt an intriguing brand, one that has had some great moments since launching in 2005. And, since abandoning its overly drapey, construction-less attire from earlier collections (though some of it is still hanging on for their dear lives), it has been enjoying a second coming, one that could potentially (extra emphasis on “potentially”) rival the likes of Alexander Wang. Maybe this comparison is far-fetched, but there is nothing wrong with having high expectations.
Their much-hyped F/W presentation was held a couple of weeks ago, and all Twitterers alike were in awe over the venue, a church filled with candles—something I found to be over-the-top, overly dramatic and unnecessary. This need for drama perhaps stems from the brand’s tired pursuit of cool, or in their own words, “effortlessly cool” (note: to be cool and/or effortless, one probably has to stop referring to themselves as cool or effortless) and all things rock n’ roll, limiting them from their place as a premium luxury basics brand. I wasn’t able to attend the show due to a previous engagement, but I have to say, the various Twitpics of heroin chic styling made me cringe.
Not only is this look terribly passé, but combined with the church theme and its Goth undertones, it also made it awfully clichéd. In fact, looking at the show images makes me feel sad and didn’t trigger any buying desires (the last time sweaty, gaunt, sinister models worked for anything was in the mid-1990s). Let’s just say there is nothing “effortlessly cool” about it.
But looking beyond the surface, were the clothes great? Absolutely…well, for the most part. There were few obvious design flops, most notably the ill-fitting, sacklike strapless dress that made a size four model look like she was in desperate need of a tummy tuck and the very confused top that couldn’t decide whether it was a tunic, a dress or a t-shirt or whether to have a short or a dolman sleeve (it was going through an existential crisis, it seems).
There were several lust-worthy pieces that were extremely well thought-out, skillfully constructed and, most importantly, very wearable. The long sand-coloured silhouettes were triumphant, adding much-needed softness to the collection, particularly the one with the delicate little bodice—truly a great example of Obakki’s strengths, where draping meets sharp construction or in their own words: “elegant yet relaxed, sophisticated and rustic, polished yet casual.”
Promising principal winter players included the fluffy angora pieces, the incredibly soft camel wrap vest, and the striking, impeccably tailored long crimson coat, all providing a rich pop of colour to an otherwise very neutral palette.
Then there were tired items carried over from season to season. How many seasons can one tight overdraped jersey dress survive for? Well, it appeared this season again in several “new” iterations, disrupting the potential Obakki showed as a possible contender in the world of luxury basics. Maybe it’s time to retire the old and familiar and focus on what’s new and exciting?
Runway photography by Peter Jensen.