by BROOKE BOBB
Right off the bat, Selam Fessahaye’s fall collection felt deeply personal. It began with a barefoot model wearing a voluminous, floor-sweeping taffeta ball skirt and a one-shoulder crop top, her hair braided and adorned with traditional Eritrean jewelry worn by her mother and grandmother. Fessahaye is Swedish-Eritean, and she often mines her familial roots for inspiration. As she explained post-show, “With this collection, I’m telling my story, focusing on my heritage. It’s a ready-to-wear collection with no limitations.”
Fessahaye has few boundaries when it comes to design, favoring exaggerated silhouettes and a smorgasbord offering of materials and textures. This was made clear as the models began to stroll on the runway one by one, each different heights, different body types, different races. It was one of the most diversely casted runways in Copenhagen Fashion Week history. It was also a showcase of Fessahaye’s playful imagination, specifically in the way she deconstructed hoodies and cargo pants and blew them up to giant proportions.
A model with a Lauryn Hill tattoo on her arm whisked by wearing a striking minidress made of fanned bits of pleated tulle. Men wore metallic suits with peaked lapels and cropped jackets. They looked like futuristic versions of Rick James. Fessahaye worked with tapestry fabric, sequins, lamé, and organza. It truly was a tactile feast, even if at times the clothes seemed a bit over-the-top. One of the most stirring looks in the collection was a trench coat and gown hybrid printed with a woman proudly holding a machine gun. It was a woman fighting for the liberation of Eritrea, and it’s an image that Fessahaye said has been with her since she was a kid. “Women and men fought side-by-side. To me, it symbolizes the strength of the women in my family.” Strength is the right word to describe this collection.