February 11, 2007 London
"I wanted it to have practical volume," he said, "a regal normality. I called it 'Bamako Pompadour.'" Bamako is the capital of Mali, which, he explained, "had an empire of huge wealth and intellectand beautiful women."
If it was smart to lay a foundation for a couple of years before deciding to show, the move also raised the bar for Olowu, setting him the task of proving he can do more than just that one dress. He pulled that off by orchestrating a total look, from leather headband visors to necklaces made from recycled belt buckles and beads to shiny patent shoes and bootsall sourced from craftspeople he found around London. His new squared-off agbada dress, in fluid brown, black, and gray color-blocked jersey, had an easy, drapey elegance that looked fresh. And though a too long section of gamekeeper tailoring in the middle broke the spell a bit, that was only a minor beginner's demerit in a collection that brought a welcome shot of energy to London's shows.