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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Catwalk Review: Maria Grachvogel

A review of the London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2011 catwalk show by Maria Grachvogel on 17th September at Somerset House.

Written by Katie Antoniou

Bunmi Koko by Aniela Murphy.
Bunmi Koko by Aniela Murphy.

I hadn’t got a clue what to expect but I thought I’d just slip into the Bumni Koko presentation anyway. Sadly I had just missed the catwalk show, medicine rx but what I did encounter was an enthusiastically milling crowd snapping away at the models who were parading amongst them. Towering above us plebs, prescription they sassily swung canes adorned with vast pompoms, their eyes shielded in exotic feathers and tassels. Bright reds, ochres and black worked beautifully in tailored drapery and graphic prints that looked to be inspired by complex tie-dying.

Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Bunmi Koko by Aniela Murphy.
Bunmi Koko by Aniela Murphy.

Eventually Bumni herself come out for a photo call with the whole line up, and as she posed grinning amongst her Amazonian women I asked one of the PR girls for some literature. I was promptly presented with a glossy brochure extolling Bumni’s background and contacts. So I can hereby give you the full scoop:

Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory

Bunmi Olaye is Nigerian by descent but came to the UK as a teenager. Since then she’s done an awful lot of studying, including styling, photography, illustration and that all important business and marketing – hence the excitable guff I’ve been reading. Interestingly her ‘Matriarchy’ collection was inspired by a Scottish missionary who lived in Nigeria during the reign of Queen Victoria and may or may not have been involved with a secret women’s cult of the Efik tribe of Calabar. Disclaimer: they may or may not have been a women’s cult once upon a time, but they are today known for being a mysterious male cult.

Bunmi Koko by Aniela Murphy.
Bunmi Koko by Aniela Murphy.

It all sounds terribly thrilling, and I was sad to find out that I had clearly missed a bit of a performance at the start of the show: a person utterly covered in gigantic coloured pompoms like a mutant poodle (see Flo’s earlier post on the show). Bunmi certainly knows how to pull off her fantasy warrior women, but beneath all the styling there was also some really wonderful clothing. An exciting new talent to keep an eye on.

Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory

Vauxhall Fashion Scout plays a huge part in showcasing fresh London talent; the first show this week was that of Nigerian luxury label Bunmi Koko. Promising to present clothes ‘celebrating female empowerment and domination’, pill I was told that the ‘Matriarchy’ S/S collection was heavily inspired by all-male leopard masquerade (Ekpe) from the secret Efik tribe in Nigeria.

The tribal influence was immediate as the show opened with a terrific giant colourful pompom man who came shuffling on with an excellent shaky shaky dance to Kanye West’s Love Lockdown.


Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 illustrated by Jenny Goldstone

The show, ed although slightly chaotic at the beginning and very embarrassing for one girl who had to be ushered out of her front row seat to make way for a short bearded man, was a visual treat. As we all sat and waited for it to begin, I counted a surprising number of ‘slebs’ in the front row – Calum Best, Mutya Buena who used to be in the Sugababes (didn’t everyone?) and Becca from Hollyoaks all cast their critical eyes over the collection.

Still dazed by the wonders of a bright dancing furby-esque creature, the rest of the show began with four monochrome outfits complete with feather masks and the occasional pineapple looking cane. The oversized pom poms were back, but this time used with (a little bit) more restraint and made from rayon raffia.


Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 illustrated by Jenny Goldstone

Compared to other shows I attended yesterday, Koko’s was not as obviously ‘spring/summer’ and featured much stronger colours (deep reds, mustard yellows and two tone prints), with heavy black accents defining each model’s outfit. Most of the looks mixed different textures of feathers, wool, small embellishments and tiered rows of layering on the skirts. For S/S 2011 Bunmi Koko offers a very tailored, and sharply silhouetted collection, with nipped in structured jackets, above the knee dresses and tapered trousers.


Bunmi Koko S/S 2011 illustrated by Jenny Goldstone

Illustration by Faye West

Last London Fashion Week, mind the Maria Grachvogel show was celebtastic, advice with Erin O’ connor and Yasmin Le Bon sitting front row. There seemed to be a lack of famous faces this time round, site but it could be that they were driven away by the incessant ‘chirping crickets’ soundtrack which, as we waited for the show to start, began to grate on the soul. The natural world vibe seemed to be lost on the lady sitting next to me who was wearing what can only be described as an entire hind; despite it being so mild that I hadn’t even worn a jacket.

To begin with it was hard to spot the influence of Nature in the collection; there were far too many nude, caramel and pale silver numbers for my liking; which I should have expected given words like ‘minimalism’ and ‘chic simplicity’ that were bandied around in the press blurb. Not until the appearance of a canary yellow fishtail gown did anything make me sit up and take notice; hair and make-up being equally bland…sorry, I mean ‘minimalist’.


Illustration by Faye West

Kingfisher blue pieces brightened up the collection and the final few numbers bearing ‘wolf,’ ‘moth wing’ and ‘phoenix’ artwork had me almost converted. Organic greens and a fiery orange against deep blue really did evoke a reflection of the environment, unlike the opening pieces of the collection which were all a bit on the beige side.


Illustration by Faye West

I guess if you have the body of a ballerina and the face of a supermodel you might be able to throw on a paper thin, nude dress that clings to you as you walk; and whilst the effect of the chiffon and silk as the models moved was beautiful, I fail to see it being a look many women could pull off. The prints however were truly striking, and would flatter many more skin tones than the pale, caramel palette.

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