Duro Olowu Doubles Down on Pioneering Women

LONDON, United Kingdom - Sometimes it is necessary to return to the source of inspiration, especially in the mind of a designer influenced by so many muses. For insatiable creative Duro Olowu, the muse du jour was none other than iconic two tone British Ska singer Pauline Black of the late 1970s group The Selecter.

As front woman during a time in England with few front women and particularly women of color, Black was a powerful visual and voice in the midst of tenuous political discord. Olowu was also inspired by the pioneering work of Dada artists Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Hannah Höch. While male Dada artists talked the talk regarding women's inclusion in the artistic movement of the 1920s, women such as Taeuber-Arp and Höch demanded a place and ultimately moved things forward on their own terms.

 Pauline Black / Photo Courtesy of @duroolowu

Pauline Black / Photo Courtesy of @duroolowu

Olowu has a singular habit of bringing attention to an oft overlooked talent - always a woman of the creative variety - and bottling up elements of their raison d'etre in his seasonal collections. As a master of prints, Olowu pairs a jagged chevron with what looks like a provincial quilt in a series of sophisticated silk and knitted looks. Another bell sleeved dress in dark blue velvet boasts miniature floral details that plays with this maximalist minimalism. There are capes and caftans of graphic proportion, pretty in pink pant suits with a contrasting burgundy lapel, and a larger than life flower power suit replete with mini skirt.

The details catapult the pieces from pure clothing to adorn to collector's items. Rainbow colored buttons, mesh cut-out gloves, fringe trims, and polka dot belts transform; some details are quite literally inspired with checkered brogues to match one of Black's vintage shirts. Some of the more tailored pieces have a countercultural vibe - like a single patchwork jacquard sleeve declaring one's allegiance. If the overall composition proves too weighty, Olowu knows how to create a separate to mix and match with one's existing wardrobe. Women are principle; that's a fact in Olowu's world.

Photos Courtesy of Duro Olowu.