SA Mens Spring 17: Nao Serati tests the elasticity of gender, finds its tipping point.

If you ever had the rare of opportunity of seeing Zambian model Francis Buseko contort his body for Nao Serati’s fall 16 collection, then you’d understand that the South African designer has never been one to concern himself with the performance of gender roles or its boundaries. With a bodysuit that defies all logic and will find its way to many a wardrobe, and suits that ditched buttons and lapels for elastic bands, Serati enjoys functionality with a side of subversion.

Seeing he was slated to show at the South Africa Menswear Week spring 17 showcase under its new designers category and make his big runway debut had us piqued. Would he push the bar farther than he had done with his previous collection or would he hold back and design to court the buyers who come from around the world looking for new talent at these showcases, was the question we were dying to answer.

Serati did a bit of both.

There is no clear theme to this collection, save for the vague notions of androgyny that characterizes all of Serati’s work. The collection this season is compact, with a decent twelve looks. The pieces are simple, exaggerated by distinct detailing and techniques more common in women’s wear. He sends down a dress shirt with an exaggerated collar and pleated off shoulder skirting, a huge trend in women’s wear this year. A simple slouchy sweater is played up with exaggerated ruching on the sleeves, the trousers shown are flared at the hem and one pair has a pant leg slit from waist to ankle and held shut with fabric strips tied into knots. The fabrics used run the gamut from layered jersey, to lace to iridescent metallics.

While this collection will appeal to a whole spectrum of adventurous fashion buyers, it’s lack of cohesion greatly hurts its ability to stand as a work of art. There are far too many experiments, none seen through to its logical conclusion. This is not Serati’s Magnus Opus. We might have to wait another season for that.


Simon Deiner/SDR Photo.

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