20 September 2013

Orla Kiely SS'14 Perfect and Provoking

This year's SS'14 Orla Kiely collection is perfection. Its a cheeky, utilitarian, retro and with bright prints in a mix of peach, navy, orange, white and yellow throughout is classic Kiely. I love shorts suits, the placket pocketed skirts and the berets, all perfect for outdoor excursions and long days in the office. This is up there in one of my all time favorite collections I've ever seen.

I am, however, disappointed at this white-washed crew of models and the tone of imperialism imparted by the show. On the one hand the idea of these adorably dressed nerdy scientist gals on an outdoor exploration is inspiring; and on the other there is my discomfort at the implications of a bunch of white girls impeccably dressed in the African bush. Originally when I saw this, I thought, "OMG THEY ARE IN THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM." I nearly died from excitement because I'm a total NHM-buff and that it was maybe girls on a field trip at the museum, but I was a little off in my guess. Once I learned that the collection was inspired by actual African safari's (and I read somewhere British exploration of Africa) it made me think that this very interesting and thought provoking presentation could have done a better job at layering in the interpretation of British exploration in Africa with more modern sensibilities.

Bottom line: I love the clothes, I'm thrown off by the presentation itself.

Photo credits to WWD.com for runway shots. all other photos Carrie at WishWishWish


  1. This collection is so adorable! Very Moonrise Kingdom-esque.

  2. I completely agree, the collection is beautiful, but they could have done something more tasteful for the presentation.

  3. I love the collection, too! But that's a really interesting point. I have to admit, when I saw the presentation online, I didn't even consider that they're all white ladies chillin in Africa. I still love the clothes, but what you bring up is worth a second thought!


  4. Well done on calling them out on this. I don't like those models at all at all, and yes, there's about zero cultural sensitivity going on here, plus it's all a bit too precious/moonrise kingdom-y, although the clothes are great (that flower-pocketed skirt)!
    British exploration of Africa was a fascinating time though. They could really have worked with that in a cool way, instead of just being all cutesy and ridiculous. Or, like you say, stuck to the Natural History Museum.

  5. See I really loved the collection and the clothes but I didn't even twig with this at all so thanks for bringing it to my attention (feeling a bit ashamed now!)

    Maria xxx

  6. Thank goodness you've mentioned this - as cute as this collection is, I can't help but think of the social context and was disappointed to notice crickets from everybody I've seen posting about it!

  7. I love what you said. Bloggers and journalists hardly ever mention stuff like this even though it's so, so important to note that bad that comes with the good. Why not compensate for the icky historic inspiration by employing coloured models, for example? A bit of effort goes a long way.

  8. I definitely thought of Moonrise Kingdom as well. I loved that movie!

  9. It is VERY moonrise kindomy, but I think that's why I like it. I mean I'm obviously a sucker for this kind of stuff.
    In terms of cultural sensitivity, I just can't believe I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else. Its really strange.

  10. Just found your blog through Instagram! While I love the cuteness, saccharine nature of the collection, I didn't pick up on the colonial aspect, it made me think more of a summer camp scenario really (still haven't seen Moonrise Kingdom all the way through). I did note the lack of black models though, they did use an Asian model which was a good start but maybe to start using black models in this setting would have been a bit too obvious? I'd like to see black models in all sorts of scenarios, not just safaris. I'm off to the presentation on Saturday and am hoping for further progression.


  11. So many people have pointed out to me that they didn't even notice that there weren't any women of color, and that is what bothers me. Obvious or not they could have been more inclusive, it just really rubbed me the wrong way. I would really love to see more black/Indian/Asian models everywhere too. I'm not like a mindless arguement picker haha, it just really struck me as tone deaf.


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