This season’s London show has all the theatrical performances of jazz musicians to take the breath away of a roomful of editors. During Duro Olowu’s intimate salon-style presentation at his cozy Mason’s Yard boutique on Monday, the designer elicited a collective gasp, but not a surprise show, but — shock horror! —a shimmering opulence in crushed velvet the color of a tequila sunrise.
Watch as Olowu’s clothes are shown off in the room by two models – surrounded by hand-printed fabrics with patterns from traditional West African crafts on the walls, and everything from Clarice Cliff ceramics to brooding Lynette Yiadom-Boakye A painting of a young man – everything just feels right , for lack of a better word.
He’s confident in a bold clash of patterns, here in the form of a rhythmic block print and a sort of blue-yellow and brown-and-white blotter check, often placed directly side-by-side—skirt and One side of the knitted piece. Or the rich, kaleidoscopic blooms that complement the post-war fuzzy prints and tailoring worn by steely working-class women in Tony Richardson’s films, including his Deviance masterpieces
smell of honey . The most daring were a sharp knee-length coat and a shimmering leopard-print ruffled cape, the latter paired with a gorgeous bias-cut dress that combined the aforementioned orange velvet with diagonal stripes.
But letting the details speak for themselves requires greater confidence, which is as much Olowu’s calling card as his vivid print. Skirts and trousers fit snugly around the models’ calves, while a series of slip dresses featured serpentine paneling, guiding the eye around the curves of the body, from point to point, like the lines of an Old Master painting. Continuous narrative device. Delicate, invisible strands of padded tulle create soft peaks at the shoulders, and each dress is finished with utility pockets. “When you find something that’s beautifully designed and comfortable, you know it’s a keeper,” added Olowu, citing the seminal work of photographer Al Vandenberg and the rich tapestry of characters he encountered in The sight of tiny clothing eccentricities found in the street serves as an inspiration.
Rumor has it that Pharrell Williams visited Olowu’s atelier this week, perhaps to find creative inspiration for his debut collection as Louis Vuitton menswear director in June. Olowu’s vision, of course, is to move away from the hype-driven model that Williams is likely to maintain when he takes over from Virgil Abloh’s mantle. But Olowu’s precise and down-to-earth approach to dressing — and his willingness to give his customers a little peacock, too — is something we can all learn from.