LFDW2014: Marrying art and personal aesthetic at ReBahia

Orire Omatsola’s ReBahia has had a great year.

First of all, the brand put out a Fall collection in April, ‘Minimal Dreams’. It was a collection that played on the contrast between White and electric Blues and Pinks, marrying louche sheer pantsuits with sleek spaghetti strap dresses, deconstructed jackets and flowy tunics. The brand also launched it’s diffusion line Wild Magnolias; an answer to social accountability and locally sustainable industry as well as a need to reach ALL Nigerian customers. Wild Magnolias came out with a strong first collection that featured Linen jumpsuits and pants with hems dyed in pastel blues and reds, an inversion of the strong colour scheme of the ‘Minimal Dreams’ collection but remaining true to the ReBahia aesthetic.  Launched in 2009 while Omatsola was still an art history major in England, ReBahia has grown  into a household name, dressing many major players in the local entertainment industry.

ReBahia came strong for Spring/Summer 2015, continuing the themes that had ruled it’s aesthetic this year, shown on day three of the Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2014 and aptly titled ‘Coup D’Etat’. With a fifteen look collection that built on the linen and white trends that has defined ReBahia for the last few seasons, the new collection went on a tangent, truly incorporating Nigerian influences.

The big wow factor of the collection for me was the appliqued print of a stylized african female portrait. Done in different colors and sizes and appliqued to the front of blouses, used as a motif on one of the dresses and used to decorate pockets and sleeves. It’s an ingenious move, a unique detail that will set apart ReBahia’s individual pieces for the rest of the year. I have always been for unique detailing in clothing, detailing that is easily recognizable and hard to replicate. This Motif was it for me.

There was a celebration of jackets, there were all sorts of jackets on the ReBahia runway this year. First, the deconstructed jacket; using a technique of gashing and stitching Omatsola managed to make a jacket that is visually interesting while totally unique. I couldn’t stop reveling in the quality of the seams used to hem the random tears worked into the fabric of the jackets and how much time it must have taken to complete it. This is not the first time Omatsola has played with this kind of deconstruction; there were jackets and dresses in the Minimal Dreams collection that were built on the same idea, but Omatsola took it up a notch this collection, hemming the gashes in bright colours to emphasize the work done.

Then there were the other jackets; one done in the most malleable of chiffon with pleated sleeves and a pleated peplum hem, a gorgeous purple jacket with a loose, almost playful peplum, a glamorous cropped jacket and pencil skirt combo with a pleated tail done in contrasting fabric and a sleeveless, circle cut jacket appliqued with the print portrait and a playful sheer blue jacket. The jackets were the mainstay of the collection and I loved every single one of them.

These are the looks i absolutely loved.

There are first looks and there is this. Where do I even start? The peplum is tailored to perfection, every pleat hangs perfectly and it flows ethereally with every movement. The pleated hems of the crop top and the high waisted pants lend flirtyness to an otherwise reserved ensemble. I harp heavily on tailoring and it’s obvious Omatsola knows her stuff. The best part is that this look is shown with sporty slipons, following through the casual look.

This is the true star of the collection. High-waisted pants are notorious to cut but Omatsola manages to check mark all three hallmarks of a great high-waisted pant; fit at the waist, pant legs that flatter thigh and calf but still flow beautifully when the wearer is in motion; fit at the crotch and buttocks without camel toes or wedgies. Lets not forget the little portraits appliqued on the pant pockets. It was a delight to watch these pants in motion. And the blouse emblazoned with the portrait motif wrests your attention and holds it. The sleeves are the right kind of loose and the open back is incredibly sensual. This is an ensemble that should only be split and worn as separates in the direst of situations. Wear it straight off the runway people, resist the temptation to split it. Please.

This skirt suit combo is so slick. Another ensemble I’d recommend to be worn straight off the runway. The crop jacket has the straight lines  and the close fit of a matador’s uniform, with loose sleeves to give movement. Structure and movement in the same piece, what more can I ask for?

I didn’t love the crop blouse in this look. Something about how it sat on the model looked ill-thought. But that jacket is forward thinking; androgynous, saturated with colour and detailing without being overwhelmed, and most importantly loose fitting, so it hangs off the model. It’s the kind of piece you guilt buy in three colours because you can’t stand to imagine it hanging there unworn. This jacket is Omatsola stunting for those who think she’s too reserved with silhouettes.

These were the pieces I didn’t understand.

I have seen this done dozens and dozens of times, I still don’t understand it. Why take a perfectly normal (if a little boring) silhouette/piece and tack on fabric that aesthetically does nothing for the final wearer’s figure. I personally abhor asymmetry if it does nothing to improve the finished product. That said, I don’t understand these three layers of ‘fluff’ on the left side of the dress. Is it for flouncy effect? What purpose does it serve? That’s a question I’d like answered.

ReBahia’s collection is mostly strong, the strength of the hits far outweighing the disappointing misses. Even when the pieces were hard to understand aesthetically, the tailoring and the finish of the clothes were undeniably superior. So I decidedly love this collection.

To see the entire collection go here

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