At first, designer Ozwald Boateng wouldn’t discuss the elephant in the room - or rather… on the row.
In 1995, as the youngest person and first Black tailor to own a shop on London’s Saville Row (where only the BEST and most respected suit craftsmen did their thing), he was content not pulling the “race card.”
But as his supreme talent rose the standard for menswear in the mid-’80s, the fashion world was dying to know how this Black man managed to drape celebs from Spike Lee to Mick Jagger in ultra tailored custom three-piece suits?!
Especially when baggy casual was in!
Boateng admitted to Refinery29 that at first he “refused to acknowledge [race] as a boundary,” until his African identity emerged as a key inspiration.
The bold colors and lush fabrics he flaunted from 1994’s Paris Fashion Week to the halls of high-end fashion brand Givenchy (as Creative Director of Menswear from 2003-2007) kept everyone talking - and stepping THEIR game up!
Today, he unapologetically pays homage to Mother Africa while dressing billionaires like Jay-Z, advising the costume design on films like The Matrix and Black Panther.
Not to mention he’s more outspoken than ever regarding his “authentic identity,” from his collections with beautiful Black models, titles like “Africanism,” and shows hosted in epicenters of Black culture like Harlem’s historic Apollo Theatre.