Ozwald Boateng Returns To London To Celebrate Black British Culture At LFW
Fashion3 Minutes Read

Ozwald Boateng Returns To London To Celebrate Black British Culture At LFW

February 22, 2022 Share

The British-Ghanaian designer, Ozwald Boateng, who hasn’t shown in London in 12 years, returned with a star-studded show at the Savoy Theatre last night.

“I always do a show when I’ve got something to say,” Ozwald Boateng told The Evening Standard.

The first black tailor to open a store on Savile Row thought it was time to bring things home after an explosive period for the Black Lives Matter movement and some pandemic-induced self-reflection. And it was a show like no other on the London Fashion Week schedule.

Ozwald Boateng at Ozwald Boateng AW22 Show at LFW | Photo via Instagram (@karlaotto)

The show opened with a visual montage of pictures of Black creatives, with their names flashing up on screen in sync to a crescendoing drums. Models in finely tailored suits and flowy silks, mixed on stage with a variety of celebs, including actors Idris Elba and Nicholas Pinnock, as well as artists Dizzee Rascal and Kojey Radical. The whole 100-person ensemble was jammed onto the stage by 9:30 p.m., dancing to a live acapella performance of Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life.” Amazing.

There was also a tribute to Jamal Edwards, who recently died of a sudden illness, leaving creative industries grieving for a man who was instrumental in elevating the careers of a plethora of British musicians. Unsurprisingly, the show is being labelled the ultimate celebration of UK Black excellence, having honoured the British-African changemakers of today.

Idris Elba at Ozwald Boateng AW22 Show at LFW | Photo via Instagram (@karlaotto)

Boateng was born in London to Ghanaian parents in the late 1960s and rose to prominence in the fashion industry for his distinctive take on traditional tailoring and custom designs, which drew on his African heritage via vibrant colour and textile use. His label, which he founded in 1989, offered a fresh perspective on men’s suiting.

In 1994, he became the first British tailor to hold a runway show at Paris Fashion Week. The next year, he opened his first shop on Vigo Street, near the end of Savile Row, giving the dull street a fresh lease of life. He soon found himself dressing A-listers like Will Smith, Daniel Day Lewis, and Jamie Foxx. In 2003, he was given the role of Creative director of Givenchy Homme, which is owned by LVMH. He resigned from this post after four years to focus exclusively on his own brand. He established a new 6,000-square-foot main store on Savile Row the following year.

Ozwald Boateng AW22 Show at LFW | Photo via Instagram (@karlaotto)

Boateng continued to draw inspiration from his Ghanaian heritage for his AW22 collection, which includes over 100 looks. He chose a set of Adinkra symbols that each represent a particular value, such as hope, authenticity, integrity, and patience. These have been employed to produce motifs for red and black jacquard weave suit jackets, as well as jumpsuits, wide-leg trousers, and, in one case, a luxuriously soft black and white velvet blazer (each of which takes 18 weeks to construct and only eight will be available).

Ozwald Boateng AW22 Show at LFW | Photo via Instagram (@karlaotto)

Boateng’s range also featured rich tones of yellow inspired by traditional Ghanaian clothing, as well as utilising traditional Ghanaian Kente prints on thick wool trousers, shirts and jackets. One of the collection’s highlights is a thick knitted overcoat in the traditional Ghanaian tribal colours of blood red, sunshine yellow, and leaf green.

Boateng also focused on sustainability. All of the textiles were purchased from local producers, and there was no deadstock material leftover.