story by Lisa Radano
photos by Charles Beckwith
The fascinating dragonfly pins used to accent the deconstructed Edwardian separates of Sukeina’s Fall 2013 collection intrigue me. Flying with a minimum of effort in all six directions at an amazing 45 miles an hour, or hovering like a helicopter, these iridescent creatures in almost every part of the world symbolize discovery, change, and self-realization. As an orphaned child, Sukeina designer Omar Salam of Dakar, Republic of Senegal, spent his childhood in various European countries. While the music for his show was very clearly West African, what I saw on his runway suggested formative time spent in the British Isles. Mr. Salam takes the classic English polo neck, and the even more classic Edwardian high-necked blouse and pairs these with sleek pants, snug dresses, fit and flare skirts topped with a host of captivating jackets, rendered modern by a process of de/reconstruction. Using fabrics of chiffon, cashmere, and an edgy black and grey tartan shot with iridescent silver thread, in sedate colors of beige, crème, and black with a pop of royal blue, Salam’s hems, sleeves, peplums, shoulders and collars are sent in gracefully marvelous dragonfly directions.
Though the general feel of the clothes is proper, formal, still there are some sexy bits like a sheer woolen polo neck with plaid cashmere shrug that came up under the breasts, presenting them in a naughty tally-ho. A range of paneled chiffon tunics, both long and short, in black, blue and beige, formed a now you see it now you don’t effect, depending on the liveliness of the model’s gait. All the looks, whether for day or evening, were topped off by the quintessential black velvet riding helmet. As I waited to talk to Mr. Salam after the show, I found myself seated beside his adoptive American mother, who was beaming with tearful pride. I asked about the name of the line, “Sukeina,” and she told me this was the name of the mother Salam lost long ago in Senegal. Like a dragonfly, he is flying both back and forth.