I was going to take the lazy bum route and ease myself gently into the 2011 routine of new label pummeling, as a new season of collections is alarmingly just around the corner.   Talk about a few sales purchases, some S/S 11 trend observations, vintage treks and some exhibitions yadda yadda yadda‚Ķbang bang bang‚Ķ and lo and behold, February is here and the madness begins.

I‚Äôm now horrified at that laissez faire sentiment.  That‚Äôs no way to start 2011, the fifth year of this blog‚Äôs existence!  Browsing through Opening Ceremony‚Äôs sale section, an activity that was part and parcel of my lazy bum Christmas-New Year routine consequently pulled me out of this lull.  I discovered William Okpo whilst going through the bargainous steals and found out that one of half of the label, Lizzy Okpo also happens to work at Opening Ceremony.  Together with her sister Darlene, this Brooklyn-based sister duo who named their label after their impeccably dressed father, have gotten a head start by having their debut collection stocked in a store that in my mind gets their selection scarily spot on (I say scary because I fear for my debit card limits when I‚Äôm in there).

Google doesn‚Äôt yield much on William Okpo but what it did come back with pervaded to be a strikingly pink elephant in the room ‚Äì i.e. an obvious issue that funnily enough doesn‚Äôt get talked about that often.  Where William Okpo is talked up online, happens to be on sites that talk up ‚Äòblack fashion talent‚Äô of 'African inspired fashion' which led me to have a think about the ten or so black, designers that I could name off the top off my head that show on an international show, disproportionately low when compared to Caucasian or Asian (Chinese, Japanese) counterparts.  Telfar, Laquan Smith (who himself highlighted the issue with the vocal support of Andre Leon Talley), Duro Olowu, Casely-Hayford, Jaiden RvA James and Ozwald Boteang are part of this handful.

When I last spoke about Laquan Smith though, my thoughts were that making the race of the designer into the main issue, sometimes needlessly sidelines the subject at hand, which are the clothes.  This is still the case but I suppose Goggling up Lizzy and Darlene‚Äôs work pointed out this deficiency in the industry that has roots in a number of factors that somehow, isn‚Äôt as clear cut as it is in the modeling industry where it can be put down to unconscious/conscious decisions in the casting/agency process.

In any case, I'm reluctant to taint William Okpo‚Äôs work by ladling ISSUE with capital letters onto the post.  As Darlene Okpo says: ‚ÄúWe wouldn't segment ourselves as black designers we are designers, that's just it. There are many designers of colour out there, but they do not receive enough exposure.‚Äù

So onto the subject at hand which is their compact sophomore collection, which caught my eye because of its choice of fabrics, evoking watercolours in the softly gradiated sheer silks worked into trenches, long skirts and shorts complimented by opaque tones of muddied seafoam green, grey, black and dulled silver.  

‚ÄúFor Spring/Summer we wanted to reveal the secrecy that every woman hides about her body by keeping her fully covered yet visibly see through,‚Äù explains Darlene.  Clearly it‚Äôs their discreet ways of revealing and concealing that draws me in as well as their sensibility to fabrics and the delicate qualities of the pieces that feel perfect for wafting around in.  It‚Äôs all very 19th century pre-Raphaelite movement up in my head at the moment‚Ķ and I feel at any given moment, I‚Äôm about to gush with florid words of piss poor poetry so I‚Äôll stop myself.  I‚Äôm blaming the Okpo sisters for conjuring up Rossetti muses, Millais and the Lady of Shalott.







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  1. ediot

    2011-01-04 at 10:53 PM

    these pieces are so divine. adore the tie-dye effect of some of these pieces.
    and im such a sucker for braids..just wish i could do one like this

  2. margief

    2011-01-04 at 11:13 PM

    i spend so much time in turkey seeing women covered from head to toe, i would love it if just one of them wore some of these covered/ uncovered pieces! i reckon it would cause quite a stir

  3. Angeles

    2011-01-04 at 11:44 PM

    my eyes go directly to the long grey dress…love it…I will wear it for everything, gorgeous pieces!

  4. Ryan Reid

    2011-01-05 at 12:14 AM

    love the black dress with sheer asymmetrical sleeves!

  5. Becca

    2011-01-05 at 12:28 AM

    I love that first piece, so pretty

  6. gorete sousa

    2011-01-05 at 12:50 AM

    PERFECT looks!!!

  7. Lizzy Siddal

    2011-01-05 at 1:44 AM

    I love the hair, the blouse in the first one, the brown boots, and the long crinkly black skirts- but don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a fan of having your underwear showing!

  8. Jasmin

    2011-01-05 at 2:24 AM
  9. artdecodiamonds

    2011-01-05 at 2:33 AM

    I love everything but i really love the bracelets!

  10. tasha

    2011-01-05 at 4:20 AM
  11. vanessa

    2011-01-05 at 4:25 AM

    Beautiful pieces. Thank you for posting these, they fabric is exquisite.
    My Heart Blogged

  12. Violet

    2011-01-05 at 4:52 AM

    has no one actually noticed that those blue shorts look like they’re dyed with period stains? just saying. i love the collection, but i’d never spend money on a pair of shorts that made me look like i had a leaking tampon.

  13. rachael

    2011-01-05 at 5:06 AM

    yes, some of it was okay, but the shorts with the tie-dye around the crotch area are absolutely disgusting to me because it looks like menstrual blood – I’d really love to know if anyone actually wears/buys those and I don’t believe a female would have designed those, typical that a guy did though. I don’t care how avant-garde the designer is.
    I rarely post but I had such a strong reaction seeing those shorts, eeeeeeewww yuk 🙁

  14. Iv√¢nia Diamond*

    2011-01-05 at 10:34 AM

    AMAZING clothes!!
    love it <33

  15. callahan

    2011-01-05 at 10:39 AM

    some beautiful peices in that collection, I love anything sheer, it creates such a feminine edge, even if it is in the form of a boyish t-shirt or shorts. x

  16. arstcrylique

    2011-01-05 at 10:55 AM

    The best one is the long dress in the second image.
    I don’t like the shorts at all, well, the shape is nice, but the texture…no!

  17. Molly

    2011-01-05 at 11:16 AM

    this is a real beaut collection!

  18. susie_bubble

    2011-01-05 at 11:52 AM

    Rachael/Vicky: I see your points entirely about the shorts – I actually didn’t notice it myself.. guess I think of err…menstrual blood as spots/stains rather than large areas of gradiation….
    I do think though that the appearance of them really depends on what you wear underneath (and with them being sheer, you’d need SOMETHING underneath)
    I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt until I see them in person… and also bring a choice of underwear to try them on with…

  19. Chuck

    2011-01-05 at 12:11 PM

    That trench coat is perfect. Congrats on raising the issue without making it the ISSUE. Beautiful clothes even if the shorts have now been ruined for me!

  20. Fager Dam

    2011-01-05 at 2:08 PM

    The rest is pretty but those shorts are really awful. Pee-stains, yuk.

  21. Laura Connell

    2011-01-05 at 2:37 PM

    I’m really into that gradient colour, tie-dyed kind of look right now so these are right up my alley. Also like the flowiness and lack of structure of the pieces, very romantic.

  22. Adri M.

    2011-01-05 at 3:20 PM

    The second dress is amazing you look really pretty and sexy:-)
    Adri M.

  23. ellie

    2011-01-05 at 3:38 PM

    These are riiiiiiiiiight up my street,
    I have to have one!

  24. Tabassum

    2011-01-05 at 4:29 PM

    The second “cheongsam inspired” dress is sublime-no accessories needed and the bangles are a must-have for me. Buuut, I have to agree w/ some of the others, the shorts are hideous. Apart from the very obvious period/pee stain, they bunch up in all the wrong places.
    btw Susie-love your blog 🙂
    take care-tabassum

  25. edoardo

    2011-01-05 at 4:56 PM

    I lvoe the geometries, the shape and degradation of the color!!

  26. Justincase

    2011-01-05 at 6:03 PM

    Lovely collection and Susie you handled it nicely. The comments, seriously “period shorts”? I feel a Carrie moment here. It’s obviously a lighting effect.

  27. Loriemitchell

    2011-01-05 at 11:03 PM

    Susie you have a great eye. This collection is beautiful. I want it all. 2011 and people need to be more positive. Keep the childish and distasteful comments far away. Hahah really a Carrie moment. It’s obviously the lighting against the iridescent fabric. ” menstrual period” may be taking it a bit far. Overall, gorgeous. Great Susie!

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  31. I’ve never been a fan of having your underwear showing!

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