Heartbreak, Healing and Holding: Ronan Mckenzie’s Runway Debut For Selasi

by Angel Nemov on 17 October 2022

The artist, photographer and stylist unveiled their second collection for clothing brand Selasi with their debut runway show in London.

The artist, photographer and stylist unveiled their second collection for clothing brand Selasi with their debut runway show in London.

On Friday afternoon, Ronan Mckenzie presented the second collection for her brand Selasi, a culmination of performance and clothes which spoke to a year of healing, and heartbreak, for the artist. Staging Selasi's first physical runway show in St. John’s Church in Hackney, Mckenzie brought her closest circle of friends, collaborators and ex-lover together for an exploration into the raw human experience.

Selasi S/S 23

The day before the show, Mckenzie spoke to us via Zoom from her studio. 'This new collection truly represents my understanding of the medium of creation, how I want to play around it and how I see development within it.' The collection, titled I Close My Eyes and Taste Desire, brought together the act of holding and being held as models joined hands and embraced in a multi-dimensional idea of fashion. It was a deeply personal collaboration with her closest friends - a furniture piece crafted by Jobe Burns took centre stage, the space was sprayed with a custom scent with Ezra-Lloyd Jackson, and the soundtrack to the show, composed by Melo-Zed, was filled with distorted recordings of the designer's most intimate thoughts. When prompted about her decision to add these deeply personal elements, she expressed: 'I wanted to connect emotionally, bringing forward a space for my friends, models and the audience to feel comfortable to share in vulnerability.'

Selasi S/S 23

Getting comfortable in the emotional spaces we often shy away from, the theme of revealing and hiding skin runs throughout the collection. There's a clear tension in garments, such as torso-cut knitwear dresses, softly swept away with protrusions on the side of the body, turned and twisted onto themselves representing an idea of inner discovery of one's sensuality. A vibrant red oversized leather coat, nipped towards the back giving a sense of pompous expression, seemed to symbolise the anger that comes before healing. Working with new fabrications like leather and animal hide was a new challenge for Mckenzie this season, skilfully` worked into blown up pillow jackets and oversized slouchy trousers. A healing trip to Kenya directly inspired giraffe-prints by Joy Yamusangie in knitwear and a cowhide leather jacket and matching trousers which merged into cut-off panel shorts that unclasp further into thigh-high boots.

Selasi S/S 23

There was a bittersweet reunion throughout the 45-minute-long ceremonial show, as models held hands and took meditative and slow steps as they circled around the space. These motions seemed to indicate the designer’s own precise and obsessive thought-process, particularly in reference to healing from the end of a long-term relationship, prompting her to discover herself all over again. In the middle of the show, she reunited with her ex-lover. A brave choice, she explained to us that this was 'an ode to the human connection and the different dimensions it explores, separating romantic intimacy from the ability to connect with people.'

Witnessing this exchange, the Selasi universe made further sense - it appears to be more delicate than just crafting clothes, it ushers in an open-ended conversation about Mckenzie’s life - her triumphs, and her falls, the open vulnerability urging us as the audience to dive into our own vulnerability. However, observing this fashion show-turned-performance-art piece, one does wonder how much of the context to all of this can be translated to the consumer and wearer when taken outside of the context of the show space. Mckenzie's clothes are made to take on the life of their wearer, so maybe that's the point.

Selasi S/S 23



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