Billed as a preview of its S/S19 collection, Telfar’s collaboration with FAKA was an event dealing with ritual and voyeurism. Telfar won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund 2017 catapulting the brand up through the fashion hierarchy and the dynamic around race and gender has been distinct to its burgeoning aesthetic. South African duo FAKA have also been developing an avant-garde style centring a queer blackness across the multiple platforms of music, performance, art and fashion. This site-specific collaboration between these two aesthetic forces, as part of Serpentine’s summer programme of Park Nights, was shaping up to be something special.
Based in the Serpentine Pavilion designed by architect Frida Escobedo, the models briskly strided into the complex setting the scene for an evening of the ephemeral. Spectators were stationed around the complex peering through the latticework of the structure into its courtyard. Red saturated light drenched the model-performers who proceeded to move in an elaborate choreography while singing an acapella choir rendition of a FAKA composition, with the duo themselves numbering amongst the performers.
Glimpses of angular denim and low-hanging open backs were continually moving, evading capture. As the viewers spread themselves across this lattice of cement roof-tiles, smartphones acting as optic amplifiers, steady-cams inside the structure were returning fire questioning the relationship of the viewer and event.
There was a general sense of bemusement which was increasingly captured by the ritualistic repetition of the choral sounds. This felt like a glimpse, or sample, of an ongoing conversation emanating out of a set of coordinates, whether that be the production of the Telfar machine or the Afro-diasporic conceptualism of record label NON WORLDWIDE, of which FAKA are affiliates.
Telfar’s collaboration with music artists is nothing new with recent collaborators including Ian Isiah, Dev Hynes and Kelela. FAKA’s involvement with this ritual performance presented us with a performance both present and historical, which you could call avant-garde. The event asked us a collective question about the presence of the culturally different through an intersection of performance, music, fashion, image and architectural space. Billed as a preview, we certainly got an idea of things to come from Telfar.
Kashif Sharma-Patel is a freelance journalist. Check out their work here