The Missing Thread: Untold Stories of Black British Fashion – an exhibition at Somerset House

Olivier Geraghty, a multidisciplinary Creative Director with a background in Architecture, continues to skillfully mesh his experiences growing up in London with his creative pursuits. This November welcomes the premiere of Olivier’s latest creative endeavour as the Exhibition Designer for “The Missing Thread: Untold Stories of Black British Fashion,”

Although his foundations are embedded in Architectural Design, Olivier’s career switched gears when he was scouted to model, launching him into the world of luxury fashion when diversity was scarce on the runways. Olivier established himself as a leading Black British creative shifting the narrative with his countercultural approach. Returning to his roots in architectural design, Olivier founded his own agency, O.G Studios, in 2017, further sharpening his trove of skills and broadening his expertise. The United Nations, Vogue Italia, Hunger Magazine and Hypebeast amongst others have championed work under the agency. His past clients include Nike, Adidas, W Hotels, Sophia Webster, Meta, and Snap Inc;. At the same time, his creative work features a roster of diverse talent including Courtney Love, Celeste, Goldie, Ghetts, Poppy Adjudha, and many more.

Now, at the intersection of fashion and design, he embarks on a groundbreaking project as the Exhibition Designer for “The Missing Thread: Untold Stories of Black British Fashion,” which debuted in September 2023 at Somerset House and will remain open to the public through til the 7th of January 2024. His latest undertaking marks a unique synthesis of his expertise in design and fashion, drawing from his personal experiences as a rising Black British creative

Somerset House explores the untold stories of Black British fashion in a major new exhibition, The Missing Thread. Spanning the 1970s to today, The Missing Thread, curated by the Black Oriented Legacy Development Agency (BOLD), charts the shifting landscape of Black British culture and the unique contribution it has made to Britain’s rich fashion design history. Divided into Home, Tailoring, Performance, and Nightlife sections, it intertwines music, art, and design to highlight Black creatives’ contributions within societal contexts. 

This exhibition uncovers the underrepresented Black British fashion narrative, offering a unique historical and cultural journey across shifting landscapes, revealing the intersection of style and socio-political dynamics. Conceived by Andrew Ibi, Harris Elliott, and Jason Jules, the exhibition serves as a cultural and historical voyage, shedding light on the unique contributions of trailblazing Black creatives who have historically been underrepresented or excluded within the British fashion narrative.

‘Home’ embarks on a journey through the cross-continental roots of Black British style, highlighting the significance of domestic settings as safe havens from racial adversity. It explores the ways in which the home provides a platform for engaging with global culture and style. Artists like Chris Ofili, Eddie Chambers, and Maud Sulter contribute works that celebrate and challenge the notion of home, touching on heritage, memory, and identity.

‘Tailoring’ examines the role of fashion as both an art form and a statement of resistance, with tailoring becoming a means to carve out identity amidst racial biases. From iconic designs worn by Princess Diana to subversive creations from fashion collective Art Comes First, the section delves into how Black Britons have reshaped tailoring’s narrative, shedding light on both established and emerging designers.

‘Performance’ delves into the power of performance within Black culture, extending beyond the limelight to encompass the everyday. The section explores how ‘performance, coolness, confidence and community identity’ translate via street style, beauty, sneaker culture and music was a vital source of strength and pride in a hostile environment.

‘Nightlife’ explores the spaces that nurtured Black creativity beyond mainstream cultural boundaries, serving as incubators for innovation, celebrating subcultures at the crossroads of fashion and music, and paying tribute to pioneers like Ninivah Khomo and Marc Hare. Photographs capture the pivotal role of subcultures in fostering identity amidst resistance, accompanied by the resonating impact of Black music icons.

The final part of the exhibition commemorates the legacy of Joe Casely-Hayford, a luminary who revolutionised menswear across his four-decade career. Despite his influential impact, Casely-Hayford never received recognition comparable to his white counterparts. 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of new commissions from contemporary Black designers, ensuring a continuation of the legacy of Black creative excellence in British fashion. This generational lineage is embodied by award-winning designers including, Nicholas Daley, Martine Rose, Saul Nash, and Bianca Saunders; a designer beloved by fashion A-listers including Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, and Rosalía.



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