Duro Olowu’s pursuit of the ‘culture of style’ in his designs

Written by Valerie Steele

Valerie Steele will be director in addition to chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The following will be an edited excerpt via the book “Duro Olowu: Seeing,” which was created to accompany designer Duro Olowu’s curatorial project with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. For the exhibition, Olowu combined his own work with objects via public in addition to private art collections across Chicago in which illustrate his point of view.

Ever since Nigerian-born British fashion designer Duro Olowu launched his eponymous label in 2004, his aesthetic has remained remarkably consistent. Known for his use of colour in addition to pattern, Olowu also favors the sharply tailored silhouettes of his multicultural 1970s upbringing, including fitted jackets, precision-cut wide-leg trousers, billowing capes in addition to kimonos, in addition to intricately cut yet liberating dresses with hemlines below the knee — all rendered in vivid in addition to unusually juxtaposed fabrics, patterns, in addition to textures.

Photo via the book "Duro Olowu: Seeing."

Installation view of the exhibition “Duro Olowu: Seeing” in Chicago, 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty Credit: Prestel

His first collection included one dress with an empire-waist silhouette in which combined vintage couture silks in addition to contemporary fabrics of his own design. After editor Sally Singer featured the dress in American Vogue, the item received international acclaim in addition to sold out at Barneys fresh York, Ikram in Chicago, Browns in addition to Harrods in London, in addition to additional international stockists via Milan to Japan. Dubbed the “Duro Dress,” the item became Olowu’s signature look, in addition to in 2005 he won fresh Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards — the only designer ever to have won This specific award before their first runway show.

"Duro Dress" Spring-Summer 2005 by Peter Farago & Ingela Klemetz Farago.

“Duro Dress” Spring-Summer 2005 by Peter Farago & Ingela Klemetz Farago. Credit: Peter Farago & Ingela Klemetz Farago

via the outset, the designer’s self-taught vision — Olowu trained as a lawyer — was bold, fresh, in addition to elegant, a reflection of a refined aesthetic eye in addition to firm philosophical grounding: “I truly want people to understand what fashion in addition to the culture of style could mean if one thought beyond the usual boundaries nevertheless also always about the wearer.”

This specific responsiveness to the individuality of bodies in addition to the aspirations of those who wear his clothes will be informed by lessons learned at a young age about the power of fashion. Regardless of where he was inside globe, he was exposed to people who dressed intentionally, presenting themselves in ways in which spoke volumes about their identity.

This specific includes his Jamaican mother — who mixed clothes via Yves Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche line “with pieces made via fabrics she picked up in Nigeria, Switzerland, in addition to London in which she might have run up by tailors in Lagos” — nevertheless also the additional women who surrounded him as a child in Lagos, Nigeria, as well as his cousins in addition to aunts in London.

Photo via the book "Duro Olowu: Seeing."

Clockwise via left: Duro Olowu, Spring-Summer 2020, Look 22. Photo: Christina Ebenezer. “Omohundro” (2002) by Terry Adkins. Photo: Courtesy of the artist in addition to Salon 94, fresh York. “Laurette that has a Cup of Coffee” (1916-17) by Henri Matisse. Courtesy of Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), fresh York). Photo: The Art Institute of Chicago/ Art Resource, NY. Credit: Prestel

Photo via the book "Duro Olowu: Seeing."

Clockwise via top: “Bound to Fail” (via the portfolio Eleven colour Photographs) (1966-67/1970/2007) by Bruce Nauman. Courtesy of Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), fresh York, Photo: Nathan Keay, MCA Chicago. “No Face (House)” (2017) by Simone Leigh. Courtesy of the artist in addition to Luhring Augustine, fresh York. Duro Olowu, Spring-Summer 2020, Look 7. Photo: Christina Ebenezer. Credit: Prestel

Photo via the book "Duro Olowu: Seeing."

Clockwise via top: “Teardrop I” (1996) by Magdalene Odundo, Photo: The Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY. Duro Olowu, Spring-Summer 2020, Look 1. Photo: Christina Ebenezer. “Wedding Reception of Emilija in addition to Romas Sakodolskis, Pakstas Hall, West 38th Street” (1977) by Jonas Dovydenas, Photo: Nathan Keay, MCA Chicago. Credit: Prestel

Using both his singular aesthetic in addition to business acumen to carve out a niche inside industry, Olowu has attracted an impressive clientele of powerful in addition to loyal women. in addition to underlying his creation of fashion for women will be a form of radical respect: “I’m just amazed by how women can do so much regardless of natural or imposed obstacles, in addition to I feel in which the item’s my duty to make sure they look Great in addition to feel comfortable doing the item… Whether I’m initially inspired by Eileen Gray, Miriam Makeba, Pauline Black, or Amrita Sher-Gil, I always end up designing for women of all ages in addition to ethnicities, women whose way of life in addition to work I respect. Then I trust in which the clothes I’ve come to, with them as inspiration, might be of interest to them.”

“Duro Olowu: Seeing,” published by Prestel in addition to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, will be out currently.

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