In a London season that has been all about bright and brilliant color and print, Duro Olowu delivered a delightful visual overload of mixed patterns, luxe fabric, and tribal accessories. "It's about being able to dream. Wearable fantasy," he said, looking for words to describe his unique African-Parisian take on chic summer dressing. His visual sources were the classic 1959 film Black Orpheus and West African masquerade festivals he saw in Nigeria as a child, ideas he patchworked into little suits, jumpsuits, and dresses; accessories with Cocteau-esque glittery eye brooches; tasseled necklaces; and sandals he found in Beirut.
What's interesting, though, is the way Olowu steers clear of any whiff of the hippie-boho: It's much classier than that. That's down partly to his use of vintage couture fabrics and partly to his knowledge of the way a certain slice of the cultural intelligentsia (including many Americans, like his gallerist wife) likes to dress. There's thatand his artistic way of seeing. Hard to think who else could get away with collaging lamé brocade next to black and white polka dots next to painterly flowers and checksbut in Olowu's hands, all that can go on in the space of one minute cropped gilet. That single hit of fabulous excess will function like a piece of jewelry to perk up any simple black dress.