Despite the fact that Duro Olowu
had a lot of other things in that early collection, one lucky item effectively launched his career: the patchwork, multi-print, short, caftanlike Sally dress. Through being loved and worn and spoken about by the Vogue
editor Sally Singer, it gained a reputation that spread across the fashion networks of two continents. Now the Portobello Road-based designer could be in the same position again. Though he has many other pieces in his Spring collection (inspired, he says, by the painterly palette of late Picasso), there was one dress editors were buzzing around as soon as they walked through the door. The new shape is more sophisticated but just as feminine as the last, constructed with a wrap belt, ripples of ruffles, and a soft collar that falls away into a hood. The genius is that it comes in short and long and looks like a completely different dress according to the fabrication—something like a modern tea dress in chiffon florals, and in plain purple crepe, more like an Ossie Clark/Biba/Halston-era nightclub number. The provisional name for this design, Olowu says, is the Harlem dress. But judging by the amount of editor interest it was attracting, it can only be a matter of time before someone wears it so much, she puts her name on it.