On the Orange Culture Dovetail Collection for Pitti Uomo

Orange Culture has a spirit about it. It's young, it's fresh and it's unusual. Bayo Oke-Lawal, the creative director, is bold and fearless when it comes to his work. It is no surprise that he's come as far as he has in such a short period of time. Those who know him often say that nothing beats a Bayo on hype. This is true, he has received the most press of any Nigerian designer in the past year.

 I was excited when I learned that he'd be going to Pitti Uomo. Pitti is probably the world's most important platform for menswear.  However, I was nervous when figured out that Bayo wouldn't have a lot of time to create a new collection for it.

The collection he created is called 'Dovetails.'












It's apparently inspired staircases in Nigeria. Bayo says, "the imperfection of staircases in Lagos Nigeria doesn’t necessarily take away from its beauty as the imperfect lines, joints and dimensions make each step an exciting adventure, a step into an airy discovery. These staircases have a rustic appearance that reinterprets the natural structure of wood and inspired the prints developed for the collection"

I didn't see the inspiration but Mama Afam did, and this is understandable. I have been sheltered, and protected from any staircases that may harm me. My feet aren't the most coordinated appendages, so I am grateful for this even though it means that I cannot identify with the collection in that regard. Mama Afam on the otherhand can. She took one look at it and declared, "it is obviously inspired by a staircase - particularly those outside staircases in Lagos. With those staircases you never know what's coming next. One step can be going to London, and the next one will be going to South Africa." After she said that, the jagged uneven edges, of the jackets read as true.

As with all things in life, there are things that I like, and there are things I dislike. I like that the orange culture brand has maintained it's freshness. I like that it's loud and audacious. It's youth in revolt. It's screaming against the dominant Nigerian culture, at a pitch that is both disturbing and irresistible. It is non-conformist, and it gives a voice to a specific sort of man. On the international stage its voice is diluted, the same way a Peacock that flares it's tail when other Peacock's are doing the same isn't as stunning as it is when it's doing so alone. I like the t shirt in picture 10. It makes for a solid foundation to any look that requires layering. I like the piece shown in the picture 7. It's proportions are interesting, and the asymmetric lapel is a remarkable detail.

I like the jacket in the first picture. It has a beautiful shape, and it hangs nicely. However, I wish that the sleeves weren't pushed up because I cannot tell how they're meant to hang. I'll say more on this later. I like number 6 and number 8 as well. However, I would have liked to have seen that with a long sleeved plain coloured t-shirt underneath it.

I almost like the piece in picture 12. I would have been a champion if the sleeves did not have the ungainly seam across them. I would have looked at it differently if the last panel of the sleeve wasn't flared. The treatment of the sleeve makes it look like a poorly made kimono.

Now let's talk about the things I dislike. The styling is a problem. If the pieces are styled in a fashion that prevents any potential buyer or fashion commentator from deciphering how the pieces are meant to look, then what good is the lookbook? The pieces have a sportswear feel, so it is a wonder that this theme wasn't capitalised upon. The photography is also questionable. The light is so harsh that, I do not believe that the clothes are as shiny as they appear to be in the photographs.

In conclusion, I worry that the several of the pieces are perhaps too bold for them to be wearable in any culture, and if they are, they haven't been styled in a manner that encourages experimentation with them. We'll have to wait for a magazine editor, photographer, or stylist with a discerning eye for that. It's strong work, whether or not it is strong enough I can't say, but we will find out soon enough.

Happy days,

Ps. The jackets have a boyfriend feel to them. It would be interesting to see them on a woman.

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