In men’s fashion, one of the most respected Black designers is Ozwald Boateng.
He has dressed celebrities including Will Smith, Laurence Fishburne, Jamie Foxx and Keanu Reeves. He even created a suit for the most powerful man in the world, President Barack Obama. Despite not being a household name, Boateng is one of the fashion industry’s most successful Black designers.
Based in London, England and of Ghanaian descent, he has been in the design business for over 20 years. He assisted other designers with their work before he officially launched his own label in 1995. Boateng was the first Black to open a shop on London’s historicalSavile Row. Since then he has continued to marvel the world with his ability to create clothing that brings together his love of culture and his desire to create clothing that embodies the essence of a man.
Boateng is known for his use of colour, texture and refined fabrics. He mixes the contemporary with traditional style details. The quality of craftmanship in his work is highly recognized in the industry. It truly represents the image of a modern man who appreciates well made clothes. He credits Giorgio Armani as a source of inspiration. Boateng says it’s because of what Armani has done on a global scale that inspired him to become an international designer. In the BBC documentaryfilm about his life ‘Why Style Matters‘, he said “Style is personal and is a reflection of who you are and your character…colour has a lot of meaning because colour can also be very spiritual.” He went on to discuss his ability to understand the male form and how important cut is to creating the illusion of a slimmer body no matter what a man’s jacket size is.
For his winter 2011 collection he remains true to his vision of fine tailoring and perfect details. This teaser looks like his colours are more subdued with hues of grey, black and charcoal. But, Boateng was quoted as saying that even when he uses black, he still has the ability to create colour with it.
Diaspora. Born in North London but of Ghanaian decent,Ozwald Boateng developed a love for tailoring and menswear from watching his father prepare for work. At the ripe age of only sixteen, the self-taught designer sold his first collection to a shop in Covet Garden. By 23 years-old he had set up a full-time design studio on London’s Portobello Road but had higher sights on the infamous Savile Row known for impeccable British tailoring. In 1994, Boateng achieved his dream and opening his very on shop at no.12A Savile Row near Vigo Street.
Boateng became one of the youngest and the only black designers to break the barrier giving London’s design world a breath of fresh air. Critics praised Boateng for redefining the cut of traditional suits fused with color and introducing Savile Row’s roots to a younger demographic.“ This is what I love, designing clothes and creating, that is just me,” Boateng told CNN International in an interview.
Bespoke Couture by Ozwald Boateng was the first collection to show during the International Menswear Collection in Paris, and now shows at the Milan Menswear shows twice per year. In 2003, Boateng was named Creative Director of French fashion house Givenchy designing his first collection for the house in 2004. However, Boateng parted ways with the company after the 2007 season.
Boateng continues to turn tradition on itself head with his unique international designs with a A-list celebrity roster including Will Smith, Jude Law, Jamie Foxx, Mick Jagger, Daniel Day Lewis and Russell Crowe to name a few clients. The designer also had the honor of dressing United States President Barack Obama for his 2009 visit to Ghana.
Boateng boasts roughly 25 years of design experience and has truly mastered his craft. Not only is he an inspiration to those of African decent who aspire to enter the design world but to anyone interested in entering the menswear or tailoring arena.