Byline: Nandini D’Souza
NEW YORK — It’s a small world indeed when the First Lady of Botswana and ‘NSync have something in common. But it is, and they do — they’ve all worn the designs of Angelo Lambrou.
But crossing continents is what sets Lambrou apart. He was born in Zimbabwe to Cypriot parents, was educated in London, Cyprus and Johannesburg, South Africa, recently opened a store in New York and calls Botswana home. Confusing maybe, but to Lambrou, it’s a rich source of inspiration.
After attending Johannesburg’s Leggats School of Fashion and London’s Saint Martins Fashion Design School, Lambrou opened his own small house in Botswana with help from his father. “I began with only one seamstress and an eagerness to achieve,” Lambrou recalls.
It wasn’t long, however, before the business grew and Lambrou was looking to expand into the international arena. His big break came in May 1999, when Mpule Kwelagobe became the first Botswanan to win the Miss Universe crown and wore one of his beaded dresses for the final round of competition and coronation. He became the official designer for her entire reign. In 2000, he was chosen to dress all delegates for the pageant’s opening ceremonies. Then, at the G&P Foundation’s Angel Ball benefit in November, which former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham-Clinton attended, Goldie Hawn wore Lambrou’s black draped dress and pop stars Lance Bass and JC Chasez of ‘NSync wore his suits.
“All of the signs were right,” Lambrou says of his decision to open a boutique here on East 7th Street last month. The store is a quiet, clean space with beautiful African accents. His designs include simple, sleek, soft leather jackets, $925, and handweaved leather bustiers, around $1,200. The highlight, though, is a display of eveningwear along the back wall, especially, the short, sheer dresses with intricate beadwork and sexy lines. Retail prices for eveningwear range from $900 to $5,000, depending on beadwork.
As for his future, Lambrou has high hopes for New York, adding: “I’m definitely one with big dreams.”