My Personal Icon

Of all the fashion related questions that I seem to be most frequently asked, something along the lines of “who’s style do you most admire?” or a slightly more direct “who is your style icon?” would chart very highly on the FAQ list. My answer, however, never seems to be quite so straightforward and will provoke one of two reactions:

  1. A big smile and approving nod of the head (very rare).
  2. A facial expression so blank that I swiftly proceed to check them for a pulse.

Unfortunately for me (and my wasted breath), seven times out of ten, it is the latter.

If you aren’t already familiar with the work, tailoring and general genius of Ozwald Boateng by now, hang your head in shame over the weekend and then report back to FashionBeans where I will be introducing you to his outstanding 2011 spring/summer menswear collection. If it also just so happens that you are completely oblivious to the life and style of this man, pick your head back up, take a deep breath, and absorb.

Introducing, Mr Ozwald Boateng

The video clip that I am hoping you have all just watched is the first part of the BBC4 documentary ‘Why Style Matters’. I remember the first time I watched this unique piece of filming a couple of years ago, I noticed the pure passion and enthusiasm that this man holds for fashion and style. He portrays fashion in such a context and with such spirit that even the biggest fashion-phobe would be left with no choice but to except what he does as a form of art. He expresses this not only within his work, but also within his personal style.
[If you would like to watch the rest of the documentary, parts 2-6 are all also available on YouTube.]

“Style is an extension of yourself. My approach is to enhance the personality of the wearer, so he has his own voice.”
Ozwald Boateng, ‘Why Style Matters’ – BBC4

Here at FashionBeans, we very often talk about style Vs fashion. If you are a supporter of style then you will understand that it isn’t just about the clothes you wear; feeling (and looking) comfortable in your own clothes, the confidence you portray and how you carry yourself are all key areas of ‘style’ and in which case, Ozwald definitely has. If you however believe that it is all about the clothes that grace your back, and you haven’t yet come in to contact with an Ozwald Boateng suit, trust me, he has that also.

THE key to recreating Ozwald’s style is the way he pulls off colour. In both his collections and his own personal style, he uses his Ghanaian roots as firm inspiration to inject bursts of life and energy into his sharply tailored creations – a skill, by the way, that has been perfecting over a 26 year long career within the tailoring industry.

Ozwald Boateng Lookbook

The Ozwald Boateng Men's Look Book

“He’s fused traditional skills in tailoring and expert cutting with a very modern use of colour. His whole life is a success story. There aren’t many black designers around, and he’s an icon” – Suzanne Lussier, Curator V&A

What does the future hold for Ozwald Boateng?

Well, maybe we could get him on the GQ 50 most stylish men in Britain list for a start? I think it’s probably about time. In all seriousness though, it almost feels as though Ozwald has achieved so much and broken so many boundaries within his lifetime already. From being the first black tailor to open a shop on Savile Row, to his time spent as the style director at Givenchy. Not to mention Ozwald being the first ever tailor to show at Paris Fashion Week (way back in 1994), right up to his most recent outstanding showcase at London Fashion Week last September.

Well, what I do know is that Ozwald was the official style expert for CNN’s global coverage of last weekends best-kept secret, the Royal Wedding. Also, something that I am genuinely eagerly awaiting is ‘A Man’s Story’, a full-length documentary film capturing the last 12 years of Ozwald’s life and evolution as a man and as a designer. Due for release September 2011.

Here is a sneak peak:

FashionBeans Inspired By Clothing…

We have recreated some of Ozwald’s most famous looks above utilising current season high street and designer picks. This should prove that this look is not unobtainable and there is plenty of inspiration whether you are looking to upgrade your smart/casual looks, outfits for a night out, or simply inject some life and passion into your work wardrobe.

Make note of how you can mix bold colours together without looking over the top, and how timeless pieces will keep you looking sharp in any situation for years to come.

  • paul smith Honeycomb textured blazer
  • Jil Sander Stretch Fit Cotton Shirt
  • Simon Carter Leather Strap Watch
  • Selected One Tax Polished Cotton Blazer
  • Brandon H/s Grandad
  • Rolando Sturlini Smart Leather Wing-Cap Shoes
  • Hugo Boss Black Grey Structured Buggy Lined Jersey Blazer
  • Black 5 Button Waistcoat
  • ASOS Slim Tie
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs Cotton Trench Coat
  • Wale Bone Bow Tie
  • Converse x Mackintosh Newfield Coat
  • B STORE Beck blazer
  • White Pleat Placket shirt
  • paul smith Prince of Wales check trousers
  • Alexander McQueen Double-Breasted Cashmere Blazer
  • Raf Simons / Fred Perry Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Split Tie

So, in conclusion (and if you hadn’t already guessed): For me, Ozwald holds it all. A flawlessly tailored appearance fused together with an impeccable understanding of colour and timeless style; all completely pulled off with a charisma that many a man would pay for. The sheer passion that radiates off of this man, even through the screen of my laptop, inspires me to unbelievable amounts; I can only imagine what it must be like to be in his presence.

Ozwald Boateng: My style icon.