Answering the prevailing question ‘How might celebration look like in a post-pandemic world?’ Olubiyi Thomas brought elements of Nigerian Sunday service to his showcase at London Fashion Week. With a focus on celebration and community at church service, the 5th anniversary SS22 ‘Let It Rain’ showcase transformed the Olubiyi Thomas atelier in Soho into the inside of a church: a long, narrow room with white chairs lined up on the sides of the catwalk to create an isle for the models. According to the collection notes the presentation titled ‘Let It Rain’ centers around rain as a new beginning and a time of fertility as it hits the soil. The show’s theme focused on our surrender to the rain as a power outside of our human control reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic. All attendants were asked to wear black and/or white and to come in our ‘Sunday best’.
Photographs by Bo Nguyen
Each Olubiyi Thomas piece is handmade in London with an artisanal approach in the creation of each piece. Sourced from unusual and even archaic fabric the independent label aims to reinterpret historical references. Exploring multiculturalism and identity, the designer reflects his experiences of British Post-Colonialism and African cultural heritage. With raw edges and deconstructed fabric that elongates and drapes around its wearer, the Olubiyi Thomas silhouette creates rather atypical and often surprising lines imbued with an air of Avantgardism.
The ‘Let It Rain’ SS22 collection reflected the past in the context of the current times with pieces made out of a mix of thick and thin offbeat fabrics and patterns. Nestled within the themes of church, community and celebration Olubiyi Thomas held his new collection mostly in black, white and grey whilst juxtaposing tradition with his signature aesthetic of oversized, elongated sleeves, patchwork sewing and free hanging bands of fabric.
Photographs by Bo Nguyen
What was new were the bits of occasional light rose coloured textiles and nostalgia-laden flower patterns that conjured up memories from being at grandma's house: the soft afternoon glow of the curtains or a table cloth.
My personal favorites were the experimentation with torn fabric (as pictured) and the combination of old fabric and cuts into new styles like hoodies and graphic tees. The exploration of more ‘feminine’ silhouettes such as tulle skirts, corsets and off-shoulder tops were very well-done and stayed true to the Olubiyi Thomas aesthetic while adding an unexpected but stunning spin. The showcase was followed by a live set of London based DJ Gaika reminding us once again what post-pandemic celebration in the world of Olubiyi Thomas looks and sounds like.
Edited by Isabela Palancean, fashion editor