Introduction

If you just so happened to tune into Fashionbeans last week, you will have been lucky enough to catch my ramblings about a gentleman called Ozwald Boateng, aka: My Style Icon. Well, today I want to introduce you to the other half of this man’s stylistic genius, his work. Coming at you in the form of his most recent (and relevant) contribution to menswear, his 2011 spring/summer collection. For those of you that aren’t entirely familiar with the Ozwald Boateng brand, and might be wondering if he is a relatively new face on the menswear scene, you would be incorrect. Ozwald Boateng is now working in his 26th year as a menswear designer/tailor (or as he describes himself, a couturier) and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.

As a child, Ozwald was always fascinated by the immaculate suits that his father wore and at the tender age of 5, received his first ever suit – a handmade, double-breasted purple mohair (wow). I like to think that it was at this precise moment that Ozwald’s future as a tailor was inevitable, but if that wasn’t the case, it wasn’t too long after that. At the age of 16, Ozwald’s girlfriend introduced him to a sewing machine and he immediately starting making and selling to fellow classmates, which eventually funded the opening of his first studio in Portobello Road, 1991.

Skip a few years of hard graft and Ozwald is about to make history (and as he describes, risks everything) by becoming the first ever tailor to show at Paris Fashion Week. Sure enough, soon after this audacious display, the orders came flooding in, which soon enabled Ozwald to make yet another piece of history by becoming the first black tailor to open a shop on Savile Row; bringing a much needed burst of energy and a fresh new image to the iconic name. Skip a few more years, Ozwald becomes the menswear creative director for fashion house Givenchy, wins numerous best menswear designer awards, dresses practically every man in Hollywood and receives an OBE (as you do). So it is now September 2010 and Ozwald is about to showcase arguably his most exceptional collection in years. But not only was he just showcasing his collection, it marked his 25th year in menswear, it was the début of his casual collection, and he was closing London Fashion Week…

Ozwald Boateng At London Fashion Week

The show boasted an army of 100 models who rehearsed with Ozwald himself in an underground car park in Savile Row. After the show was finished, the models remained in complete character and marched the streets all the way back to the headquarters at Savile Row (god I wish I could have seen that). This wasn’t to happen of course, until Ozwald had taken his final bow to the adoring spectators; he took this alongside his father, the man who inspired it all.

These are some of my favourite looks from the show:

Ozwald Boateng Spring/Summer 2011 Collection

The rest of the collection can be viewed at: Ozwald Boateng Spring/Summer 2011 Collection

As biased as this is clearly going to sound; if I had to chose just one collection that epitomised menswear for spring/summer 2011, it would be this one. Ozwald stays true to his roots and uses classics such as the high waisted trouser, double-breasted blazer/trench and of course, the crisp white cotton shirt. However, once fused together with a modern silhouette and a fantastic use of colour, the collection is left oozing sophistication and the sharpness of the tailoring is evident. Ozwald clearly has a very firm understanding of trends; the cream and white trend, its in there; the khaki trend, that is also in there; colour blocking, of course that’s in there. But above anything else, and the first thing that I am always looking out for when analysing a trend, it’s wearable!

“It was a mega fashion show and a mega statement.”
Nicola Copping, The Financial Times

This little collection of articles has barely been an introduction into the life and work of Ozwald Boateng, if you wish to find out more, his website http://www.ozwaldboateng.co.uk/ should hopefully provide you with all the history lessons and updates one could wish for.