At 50, Ghanaian-British fashion designer, Ozwald Boateng is still breaking new grounds

by Rachel Ogbu//

This year, Ozwald Boateng turned 50 and also celebrated a quarter of a century in menswear tailoring. The Ghanaian-British fashion designer who is known the world over for his trademark spin on classic British tailoring and bespoke style is the former creative director of Givenchy with a huge followership that includes Will Smith, Daniel Day Lewis, Jamie Foxx and Mick Jagger.

Despite the feeling one gets that Boateng has already done it all, he still is able to pull out a few firsts; last year, he marked 25 years in the fashion business with his first-ever show at London Fashion Week (LFW), his autumn/winter 2016 pieces were modelled by 100 men making history as the largest number ever seen on one LFW runway. “I am celebrating twenty-five years, so I wanted the experience to be exerting,‘ – Ozwald Boateng explains. “I didn’t want to do a retrospective. Instead, I conveyed my width of experience by showing off different ways to wear my clothes. The volume was a representation of time, and you really feel the presence of 100 men.

Ozwald Boateng has had a progressive effect on menswear fashion for almost thirty years, with a design taste that has its origin in Savile Row traditions (the first black tailor on the Row) but defined by international style, detail, and artistry. He recognised his passion early and dropped out of a computing course to enrol into Southgate College where he studied fashion. Starting in a humble way with his mother’s sewing machine Boateng created his first collection and sold it to Sprint fashion store in London’s Covent Garden in the late 80s. By 1986, Boateng had dressed celebrities from Mick Jagger, Jimmy Paige to Spike Lee. He had also set up a design studio on London’s famous Portobello Road, where he would start a journey that would see him change the course of men’s fashion and become one of the most recognisable names in the industry.

In 1994, Ozwald Boateng became the first tailor to have a catwalk show at Paris Fashion Week. In 1995, he became the youngest tailor at the age of 28 to set up shop on Vigo Street at the end of London’s prestigious Savile Row, then went on to win the Award for Best Menswear Designer at the Trophées de la Mode in Paris in 1996. He won the same award in 2000, this time at the British Fashion Awards and received an honourary award from the Ashanti King of Ghana Otumfouo Nana Osei Tutu II.

In 2002, he shut down the Savile Row road to celebrate the opening of his first Headquarters by hosting the first ever fashion show on the Row and launched his first fragrance for women which was inspired by his wife that same year. In 2003, Ozwald Boateng was appointed Creative Director for menswear for French Fashion House, Givenchy, he presented his first collection for Givenchy at a spectacular show in Paris in 2004 and by 2006 he was awarded and named as an “Officer of the order of the British Empire” by the Queen for services to the clothing Industry in her New Year honours.

He has received many more awards including the prestigious Harvard University Veritas Award in 2014.

In recent times, he has been involved in charity work recently, helping to raise money for children’s cancer charity Clic Sargent

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