Genie in a Bottle
In a show calendar the can often feel either conceptually burdensome or staid and reactionary, Bobby Abley’s unique brand of super playful sportswear is like a blessed spoonful of sugar coated glitter. It should hardly come as a surprise that the mood this season was as cheeky as ever because the designer has once again joined forces with long term collaborator Disney to refract that childhood favourite Aladdin through his idiosynratic lense. That means Abley focused on some imagined notion of the Middle East and how to get there: the invite was, after all, a spoofy ticket granting you a seat on his “Magic Carpet Airways”.
That theme meant some of the very literal interpretations that are Abley’s bread and butter; think Robin Williams’ The Genie graffitied across a sweatshirt or Aladdin’s devoted sideman, Abu, printed manically on a silhouette-mutating athletic skirt that was then layered over track pants for a dishadash flavour. Middle Eastern ath-leisure has, it seems, arrived.
Elsewhere, flame prints licked up swimsuits or hoodies. It’s a fitting motif because ultimately, where Abley might be playful and childlike, he’s also about something more mature: scorching heat and a certain proud-of-it sexual potency. Models came gorgeously fierce, their buffed chests flashing beneath a lipstick red fur coat, or their modesty squeezed into beach-ready boxer briefs that are firmly not for the faint of hearted. In essence it was another season of the Bobby Abley we all know and love – let’s see whether he can take his insatiable energy to somewhere unexpected next time.