Senegalese designer Omar Salam holds his childhood traditions close to heart, which is why he rang in the new year in an unexpected way: collecting pebbles — and his inspiration for fall — by the East River in Manhattan.
In West Africa, throwing stones into water is a way of manifesting one’s wishes for the future. So what is Salam hoping for in 2023? “Love,” he declared backstage.
Titled “You,” the collection was an expression of his own love for the Sukeina woman whose presence Salam views as holding great strength and tenderness in equal measure, attributes he associated closely to the pebbles as well.
The designer is “intrigued by things that are not necessarily going together, that are sometimes even polar opposites” and through design, says he seeks to understand “how they can emphasize and complement one another.”
Stones translated literally here to the use of slate-gray on trouser suits with conceal-and-reveal gold zippers and Mod pinafores layered over sequin tops and embellished with marabou feathers and chevron knit accents. Their roundness, which he likened to a smiling face, led him to scale back on his signature sharp-edged origami folds that appeared on just two bicolor coats that were nearly identical.
Taking a more gestural approach, kick-flare pencil skirts opened up like water does when hit with a solid object. Ditto the tufted black and magenta finale look sported by Coco Rocha, who vogued the house down, whipping the cathedral length train to much fanfare from the audience.
If love is what he wanted this year, Salam definitely received it in that moment.