Duro Olowu Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Within the frenzy of London Fashion Week, Duro Olowu’s presentations are a breath of fresh air. Step inside his bijou studio in St. James’s, and Olowu’s understated approach to showing his collections is an object lesson in why some brands just don’t fit the standard runway format: if these clothes were whizzing past you to a blaring soundtrack, you’d never be able to appreciate them the way you can in this intimate environment. With all the conversation around the financial challenges of staging a full-blown runway show this week, let’s hope more young designers feel emboldened to follow Olowu’s lead.

It does help, though, that Olowu is one of the few designers as eloquent on the finer technical details of each look as he is waxing lyrical about dressing the women that surround him. “It encourages me to understand what I’m trying to do,” he said of the dialogue he opens up by inviting press and buyers to sit with him each season and talk through the looks as they come out, one by one. (In Olowu’s presence, it’s far less awkward than it sounds.) “Whether they love it, or like it, or dislike it, I believe in clothes that are potently emotional.”

Seekers of potently emotional clothing need look no further than Olowu’s supremely elegant spring collection, which reiterates his abilities as a master of clashing prints and colors. A pattern of quaint florals and diamonds lifted from antique drawer liners came both expanded and shrunk, while another print—graphic swirls inspired by the Surrealists—was painstakingly repainted in multiple colorways, spliced together to form a pleated skirt or decorating the sleeves of a loose-fitting shirt (and then paired with pants in a bracing shade of scarlet). “I didn’t want it to feel prissy or special,” Olowu said. “Although I always want the person wearing the clothes to feel special, of course.”

It takes a certain kind of fearlessness to funnel all of this into a single collection, but an even rarer level of expertise to pull it off in good taste. Olowu’s riff on a classic, nipped-waist sundress was a standout, featuring ruched bodices and tulip-like ruffles extending from the waist that doubled as pockets. “I think a dress without pockets is very outdated,” Olowu smiled. So it was with the deliberately scrappy floral arrangements that served as a backdrop to the lookbook, assembled by one of Olowu’s former assistants, Ragnhild Furuseth of Studio Lupine, and which he accurately described as “meticulous but messy—and not at all stuck-up.”

It’s that fascinating balance between the sophisticated execution of Olowu’s clothes—the just-so pleat of those trousers, the palpably luxurious silk rayons and cloqués they’re cut from—and his renegade creative instincts that makes his vision so compelling. But it’s also the pleasure of listening to him talk that allows you to fully appreciate it. “The people that I admire and that I hope to design for are never people who make things, or believe in things—whether politically or creatively—because they want to be part of a club, or part of a movement,” he said. “I don’t make collections to be prescriptive or didactic. I just hope, in some small way, they can help provide a new way of looking at and thinking about clothes.” On that front, mission fully accomplished.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *