Presented against the simple backdrop of the Fashion Scout show space at the Freemason’s Hall; Theo VII Studio’s SS18 collection, named The Animist, drew inspiration from the Maasai culture, a Nilotic ethnic tribe inhabiting parts of Kenya and Tanzania. According to show notes, Maasai means 'to plead with' the outside world to understand that not only one way leads to true happiness and freedom.

In a current social and political climate in which a harbouring of mistrust and intolerance toward different cultures surfaces, a call for tolerance and harmonious pluralism felt extremely apt.

The collection drew upon the traditional styles of the Maasai people whilst combining elements of menswear and womenswear, working to break barriers between gender; a key aspect of the label’s ethos. Amongst the looks were a selection of crisp white dresses, shirts and loose fitting trousers, taking inspiration from ‘Shuka’ – the traditional Maa style of wrapping sheets around the body. Stripes and checks featured heavily, with an orange and green check suit being amongst one of the strongest pieces in the collection. Other strong, and very commercial, pieces include a stone trench with cobalt blue lapels and tailored jackets reworked as wrap dresses and styled with sandals, which could equally be worn as part of a suit.

video backdrops
Theo VII have introduced footwear and accessories this season: in keeping with the Maasai tradition, these included sandals and bags, both woven with beaded jewellery.

The Animist was deliberately minimal in terms of design to reflect the primitive lifestyle of the Maasai people; but compared to the label’s previous collections – despite having a poignant message, it unfortunately also felt very minimal and somewhat underwhelming in terms of ideas.

Words: Lucy Hardy | Fashion Week Press | @lula_har

Images: Sarah Mildred | Fashion Week Photographer | @sarah_mildred