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July 11 2014

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Design, Tailor, Walk

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It’s anyone’s guess whether Ozwald Boateng knew, when he booked the Odeon in Leicester Square for his London fashion week-closing 25th anniversary show and film extravaganza, that he’d be facing off with Julia Roberts. The London premiere of Eat, Pray, Love took place at the same time and at the same theater.

It was hard to say whether the celebs wandering around the square were there for Ozwald or Julia. In the tailor’s corner were 1,600 of us, celebrating the man who began as a journeyman 25 years ago and broke through barriers to become one of the world’s most respected outfitters (no small feat in the olden days, when race was a hotter issue than it is today). He now suits up Brad Pitt, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jamie Foxx, Jude Law, and Bryan Ferry, among others. In the film A Man’s Story, which screened after the catwalk show, a number of famous friends—Will Smith, Spike Lee, Paul Bettany, and Laurence Fishburne among them—sang his praises. So did billionaire Richard Branson: “If someone can get me into a suit, it must mean he is really good.”

Twenty-five years is long enough to see a new generation come in, and fittingly, Boateng called upon some of the new class to walk his show: Sam Branson (son of Richard) and Tyler Wood (son of Ronnie and Jo) hit the runway, with their proud parents beaming from the front row. Joining them there were Piers Morgan, heavyweight world champion David Haye, Nick Rhodes, and Michelle Williams—it seemed the only one missing, in fact, was Julia, though you could say she made her presence felt in the deafening roar that fell over the show when she hit the red carpet next door. It may have been a theater, but it was Boateng’s latest scent wafting in the air, rather than popcorn, and half bottles of Moët in the cupholders, rather than pop. And when the whole thing was done, the models formed a procession and walked back to the designer’s Savile Row HQ, with a few overeager fans joining in the fray.

Photo: Courtesy of Ozwald Boateng

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