With the madness of London Fashion Week, Duro Olowu’s shows are a breath of fresh air. Step inside his jewelery studio in St James, and you’ll find that Olowu’s minimalist approach to showcasing his collections is an object lesson in why some brands don’t conform to the standard runway format: If these clothes pass by you to the tune of a loud soundtrack, you’ll find them. You will never be able to appreciate them the way you can in such an intimate environment. With all the talk about the financial challenges of staging a full fashion show this week, let’s hope more young designers feel emboldened to follow in Olowu’s footsteps.

However, it helps that Olowu is one of the few designers who speaks eloquently about the subtle technical details of each look, as he waxes lyrical about dressing the women around him. “He encourages me to understand what I’m trying to do,” he said of the dialogue he opens by inviting press and buyers to sit down with him each season and talk through the looks as they appear. (In Olowu’s presence, it’s much less awkward than it sounds.) “Whether they like it, or they like it, or they don’t like it, I believe in clothes that are powerfully emotional.”

Those seeking strong, emotional clothing need look no further than Olowu’s ultra-chic spring collection, which underscores his abilities as a master of clashing prints and colours. A pattern of eye-catching florals and diamonds taken from antique drawer liners expanded and contracted, while another print – graphic swirls inspired by the Surrealists – was repainted in multiple colours, cut together to form a pleated skirt or decorate loose sleeves – a fitted shirt (then paired with solid color trousers strong crimson). “I didn’t want to feel special or special,” Olo said. “Although I always want the person wearing the clothes to feel special, of course.”

It takes a certain kind of audacity to turn all of this into one collection, but an even rarer level of expertise to do it in good taste. Olowu’s take on the classic high-waisted sundress was notable, featuring ruched bodice and tulip-like ruffles extending from the waist that doubled as pockets. “I think a dress without pockets is very old,” Olu smiled. And so it was with the sparse floral arrangements that served as the backdrop for the photo book, compiled by one of Uhlo’s former collaborators, Raghild Foruseth of Studio Lupine, which he accurately described as “delicate but messy – not at all sticky.” “.

It’s this amazing balance between the sophisticated execution of Olowu’s clothes — the precise pleats of those trousers, the distinctly luxurious silk of the garments from which they are cut — and his rebellious creative instincts that makes his vision so compelling. But it’s also a pleasure to listen to him talk that allows you to fully appreciate him. “The people I admire and who I hope to design for are never people who make things, or believe in things — whether politically or creatively — because they want to be part of a club, or part of a movement,” he said. “I don’t make collections to be prescriptive or didactic. I just hope that they can, in some small way, help provide a new way of looking at and thinking about clothing. And on that front it’s completely mission accomplished.

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