On the last day of Paris, Umit Benan played a home run: a baseball set filled with gravel and dirt transformed the Palais des Beaux-Arts, with a pitch backdrop and mesh fence caging show goers.
The collection paid homage to Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The move ended the racial segregation that had relegated black players to the Negro league for six decades, and paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement. The show was split into two parts, before and after Jackie Robinson.
Before Jackie Robinson:
Models walked out covering their faces with a baseball glove, a literal reference to the absence of freedom and identity during eras of segregation in America. Silhouettes riffed on the baseball theme, with tailored takes on the bomber jacket, forties corduroy jackets and sporty quilting. A beautiful white mohair coat came with a B leather patch – B for baseball, and Benan.
After Jackie Robinson:
The lights brightened, and Martin Luther King’s speech ‘I have a dream’ was spoken in part. Models uncovered their faces, revealing a mix of street casting and models. A forties wardrobe of three piece linen suits, low slung trousers and wide brimmed hats, plus Americana leather sleeved bombers and soft shoulder baseball tops, mixed seamlessly with the tweeds and wools in a palette of brown, orange and cream.
Solemn to begin, becoming upbeat in the second half. For the finale Umit Benan ran out hysterically, clutching a sign printed with ‘no to racism’, hugging models as he left.
“Danny Boy” by Jackie Wilson
“Hellhound” by Son of Dave
“Stupid” by Bobby Womack
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