“I want everyone to leave feeling like ‘Wow, I went to Jamaica in New York’,” said Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, who showed his runway debut collection at New York Fashion Week this past weekend. Thompson, a 2021 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist, aimed to celebrate his Jamaican heritage. After the pandemic paused travel to the island’s lush beaches, a collection titled Air Jamaica, did just that.
“I’m reminding us of what it really means to champion and celebrate ourselves even through an adversary,” Thompson said backstage following the show, amid a scene of chaos and excitement.
The front row included other noteworthy Black designers including Kerby Jean-Raymond and Brandon Blackwood, and stylist Law Roach. The room was an oasis of red from the runway carpet to the drapes to the chairs. Red is not only a color in the Rastafarian flag, but also one of Edvin’s favorite colors right now. The energy erupted as soon as the first designs made their way down the runway.
“2022 will be the year of red,” he told the Cut. “After the year that we’ve had and still going through it, [the color] shows us facing our adversaries.”
The clothes reflected Jamaican culture: vibrant monochrome unisex sets; a sheer catsuit with an open back and a peek of G-string, topped with a Theophilo logo (which stole the show); body-hugging dresses adorned with the Rastafarian flag colors; and oversize structured denim.
Playing with bright colors in clothing feels “cliché” as a gay Black designer, he said, but the use of it reinforces his commitment to Jamaica. “My community and my culture is vibrant and colorful,” he said. He also loves playing with silhouettes, hence the oversized denim. “Denim loves me and I love denim, as you can see.”
Models had long, pulled-back cornrows with the Rastafarian flag colors woven through them, sleek finger waves, and long bright nails, some covered in Theophilo rhinestone charms, the ultimate ode to the Jamaican heritage. One model was even adorned with a live snake.
Thompson said, “When we just had the hair and makeup on the girls without even dressing them, they were already transformed.”