4 posts tagged "Ozwald Boateng"
What’s the next big thing in fashion? Lately, signs are pointing to Africa. For starters, Franca Sozzani dedicated the entire May issue of L’Uomo Vogue to celebrating the continent’s intrinsic allure and creativity. This year’s International Herald Tribune Luxury conference will examine the growing African middle class as an emerging consumer as well as the region’s potential for manufacturing. And last night, Essence editor in chief Constance White led a panel discussion entitled Design Africa, where she and political journalist Chika Oduah held forth with Rogan and Loomstate co-founder Scott Hahn, Suno head of production Nadiyah Bradshaw, and Bantu swimwear designer Yodit Eklund about the future of design on the continent.
The consensus: There’s plenty to be done, but the potential is great. “China did not become China overnight,” Bradshaw said, going on to explain how at Suno, she helps Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty find ethical workshops and factories and effectively create needed job opportunities in places like Kenya. Panelists mused on the potential of African manufacturing and hoped that one day, a “Made in Nigeria” tag would be as highly regarded as a “Made in Italy” or a “Made in France” one.
In the meantime, people like panelist Enyinne Owunwanne (the founder of online African fashion retailer Heritage 1960) are working to promote Africa’s rising design stars. Owunwanne works with promising up-and-coming designers including Jewel By Lisa and The Summit, as well as artisans in South Africa, Nigeria, and Rwanda, which she features on her site. “Until recently, Africa has largely been underserved within the global fashion and design scene, but the continent has always been chock-full of amazingly talented designers and artists,” Owunwanne told Style.com. “It was only a matter of time before the world stage started to give due recognition to the talent stemming from Africa. Diasporan trailblazers such as Duro Olowu and Ozwald Boateng set the stage for an appreciation of African designers. The fashion industry has barely tipped the iceberg with African designers and inspiration coming from the continent, though. There is so much more to discover—this is truly just the beginning!”
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.