• Text Tempe Nakiska
  • 19th January 2014

The Palais des Beaux-Arts was transformed into a slightly derelict baseball field set for Umit Benan’s FW14 show. The idea here was not a shallow stylistic reflection of sport within pop culture but an homage to Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball.

We were led on two separate journeys, 1947 (the year Robison debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers) splitting halves themed before and after the legend’s major play. The first was murky and melancholic, a down-tempo soundtrack leading models down the caged runway in 1950s bomber jackets, heavily pleated pants, quilting and ‘B’ appliqued denim – the ‘B’ for both ‘Baseball’ and the designer’s surname.

The lights were taken up a few notches as was the music’s tempo for an uplifting second half that saw tailoring take on a larger role. So did colour; a harmonious palette of rusty oranges, burnt reds and browns emerged, boldly reflecting a new era of greater rights and freedom.

Benan undertook ambitious endeavor in staging this show. But it was the clarity with which it was represented that pulled it off with inimitable energy.