Labrum – Designed By An Immigrant: Journey of Colours | LFW AW24

Following on from receiving the highly coveted Queen Elizabeth II award for British Design, Labrum presented their AW24 collection: Designed by an Immigrant: Journey of Colours during London Fashion Week. Creative director Foday Dumbuya aimed to spotlight the role that immigrants play as an essential part of Britain’s history, present and future. The show – held at the iconic Tate Britain – featured an array of pieces ranging from kaftan inspired blouses, tailored suits and outerwear.

While every piece told a story, creating a cohesive and highly impressive show, the stand out pieces were by far the head-dresses. Varying in size and shape they were clearly inspired by the traditional way that many in the global south choose to carry goods and luggage.

Labrum chose to present this common practice – that is often ridiculed in the West when immigrants continue doing this in their new homes – in a variety of textures. From a classic Adidas bowling bag to vintage luggage wrapped in Labrum monograms to a black bowl hat made from 30 metres of coiled hemp braid complete with overflowing raffia detail. To describe these accessories as anything less than undeniably regal would be a disservice to the magnificent artistry.

Dumbuya’s commitment to combining contemporary and traditional elements was felt in every single detail. While at first glance you see a classic double breasted printed trench coat, at close inspection you realise that the print is in fact cowrie shells – a symbol of wealth across Africa.

This commitment to highlight the unsung heroes that impact culture and fashion wasn’t exclusive to the pieces. After the last model walked down the runway, Dumbuya made the customary creative director appearance but then he veered away from the norm and presented his team. Designers and seamstresses work tirelessly and often thanklessly behind the scenes to make a collection cohesive, beautiful and an accurate interpretation of the creative director’s vision. Instead of simply thanking them privately, they were presented to the audience and met with a standing ovation. While in the past, people behind the scenes often stayed there, Labrum are adamant that won’t be the story with their brand.

Oftentimes with mission based fashion the pieces can become solely political statements to show allegiance with a cause or group but without the ability to become pieces you constantly revisit. Labrum avoids this by presenting pieces that are clearly highly covetable without diluting his message of reimagining African design as a contemporary language. A beautiful show with a beautiful message.

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Photography courtesy of Labrum
Words: Jade Rozan