In the midst of back-to-back shows, London-based Duro Olowu offered a select few showgoers and friends of his brand, including artists, historians and curators, the opportunity to have a break and view a collection at a very different type of pace.
Taking over a Mayfair town house that resembled a giant cabinet of curiosities, Olowu sat in the living room alongside his guests talking through each garment, as two models took turns showcasing the looks in his spring 2020 collection.
Françoise Gilot — an artist, the former wife of Picasso and “the only one who managed to leave him” — was Olowu’s main point of reference, for the effortless way she carried herself.
He married references to Gilot’s elegant style with the energy of Eighties’ dance-hall music to create a more current look of his own that was luxurious and laid-back.
“I think that if I found myself in Kingston in the Eighties with Françoise Gilot, we’d have a great time,” said Olowu. “She’d make elaborate clothes seem practical and that’s what we tried to achieve here.”
He worked some of the colors and patterns of Gilot’s sketches, drawn during trips to Venice, India and Senegal — into patchwork coats that juxtaposed painterly and non-painterly patterns; reimagined some of the decadent brocades the artist would wear in more laid-back, modern shapes such as a light trench that can double as a dress or a striking cape, and channeled the effortless attitude Gilot embodied with no-fuss kaftans or shirtdresses featuring bold, clashing prints.
There were stripes galore throughout the collection, with a variety of patterns and colorways coming together in relaxed suave suits, chic A-line dresses and light coats. The idea? To reflect the textures and colors from all the different destinations seen in Gilot’s sketches and create “a flag for confident style.”
Olowu did just that and also highlighted his self-confidence by continuing to indulge in the luxury of time with his intimate salon shows, steering far away from the catwalk and the rapid pace of social media.