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Duro Olowu

   
 

Out of Africa

   

 

  

 

The right idea today is to think of fashion as art--not necessarily as something to adorn oneself with but something one can appreciate at a fiscally respectable distance!  We have long coveted the creations of Duro Olowu, the Nigerian-born lawyer turned London designer whose work takes the idea of fashion as art to marvelous lengths.  There has been a recent resurgence in the use of African prints in both fashion and art and Olowu uses them to much effect in his designs but his influences truly tend towards the global--in 2007 he said that he was inspired by "the colors of the great jewels of the maharanis of India, the Baroda pearls, emeralds, and rubies."   He patchworks prints that he has custom-made with recycled couture fabrics and patterns to create a sophisticated collage of pattern and color.  A modern distinctive haute-global aesthetic, always glamorous and imbued with fantasy and whimsy.  

In 2006 he made a splash with his now trademark kimono-style empire-waisted dress with different patterned textiles defining borders and sleeves.  The idea of pattern on pattern was taken to the maximum to create a subtle but slightly off-kilter beauty.  For Spring 2009 he cites the influence of the films Black Orpheus and The Red Shoes, as well as West African masquerade traditions, in creating a collection with a marvelous palette of green, red, and orange that is offset by black and white, with dramatic and layered tribal necklaces and accessories 

There are two marvelous shows in New York at the moment that reflect the growing awareness of African textiles and their increasing use as an element in contemporary African art.  The Metropolitan Museum's current show The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End has 19th century African textiles contrasted with pieces of contemporary art and The Poetics of Cloth: African Textiles/Recent Art at New York University's Grey Art Gallery, focuses on the use of traditional textiles in contemporary art.  

L'Afrique, c'est chic!

 

Discover: Duro Olowu

Visit: The Poetics of Cloth, NYU's Grey Gallery

Read: The Essential Art of African Textiles, the Met

 

Tags:  fashion  india  africa

 

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