Olaf’s MA is a quietly defiant response, a presentation of clothes that question and challenge expectations of how they ought to be designed. “I began by exploring what a Western body looks like in a suit, where everything is straight, slim, broad-shouldered. And then I compared this to the Japanese philosophy of Hara, which states that you shouldn’t have to stand upright: the knees should be bent, the belly should be released – breathing in and holding back is really unnatural.” To achieve this, the shoulders of heavy outer pieces are dropped or pinched forward in an illusion of hunched comfort, and softly sculpted pleats at the waist echo the contours of a belly in curled repose: these are clothes that conform to the wants of the body, and not the body to the wants of the clothes.
Those that have followed Olaf since his BA will also notice the characteristic blurring of function and ornament, which returns with greater depth and nuance. Where the references to nature were once explicit, painted flowers for example, here they merge into woolen hues of earthen brown, ochre and mossy green. A pair of trousers in golden silk velvet is decorated with generous flap pockets (which anywhere else would risk coming across as a bit of a gag), and another pair in scarlet is peppered generously with snap-fasteners – they glint like sequins, while serving as the means by which the many possible configurations of haphazard folds are held.