May 7, 2019
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Ozwald Boateng debuts womenswear with Harlem show

May 7, 2019

Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng has unveiled his first-ever womenswear in the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem with the packed auditorium helping the venue to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance as well as Boateng’s move into a new category.

Ozwald Boateng

The designer worked with ad-free social network Vero.co from a live stream and see-now-buy-now perspective with items available to be bought straightaway on the site.

The runway saw a mix of men’s and women’s looks for a collection that was in many ways a world away from traditional British tailoring as colour and African-inspired print were the key takeaways.

But Boateng, who was also in the news just over a week ago as he designed the suit Idris Elba wore for his wedding, added in typical Savile Row touches with some impeccable tailoring. 

He told The Associated Press that he chose to show the collection at the "epicentre for African American culture" due to his commitment to building a bridge between Africa and those of African descent around the world, and that the audience included locals from Harlem and fashion students as well as fashion media.

"I just want to be really inclusive when I create," he told AP. "We're in an interesting place now in the world and I feel that I want to express more of my African roots in my work. It's important to be true to who you are, to be authentic.”

The show was a play on the current obsession with artificial intelligence in fashion and was was called ‘AI’, although in this case it meant a number of different things such as "authentic identity," ''artistic intelligence" and "ancestral identity.”

The womenswear made the most of African-influenced colour, pattern and detail but was also anchored in his tailoring roots with mannish jackets re-cut for the female form. The belted jacket was a key piece along with a series of brightly coloured skirts and dresses.

“Throughout my career I have focused on how design can facilitate self-expression and enhance our inner selves. Now that we live more of our lives online it’s more important than ever for us all to have better tools to express who we are as multidimensional people and to connect meaningfully with each other. That is why I partnered with Vero because I believe they provide the tools,” the designer said of the link-up with the social network.

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