Afri-clectic! Designer Duro Olowu

I loved him long before Michelle Obama did!

Nigerian fashion designer Duro Olowu that is. However, its been obvious that the Lagos born, London based designer has become a fast favorite of the First Lady since she was first spotted rocking one of his spectacularly colored, richly patterned dress designs while campaigning for her husband back in in 2008.

Pieces from Michelle Obama's Duro Olowu Collecttion.

Pieces from Michelle Obama’s Duro Olowu Collection.


The “Duro” Dress by Duro Olowu

MO WEARING DURO 2008 CAMPAIGNI remembered Mr. Olowu piquing my interests way back in 2005, when I read how he quit law school to start his own label, premiering with his signature kimono-like dress the “Duro”. You’ve probably seen it all over, with it’s large, clashing patterns, empire waistline, full, knee-length skirt and doleman like sleeves. It was a huge success and was featured in every major fashion magazine.  Olowu  won “New Designer of the Year” at the British Fashion Awards in the same year, without ever holding a runway show! An impressive first.  And knowing Michelle the way I do (that’s right! Her birthday’s in the same week as mine) she’s impressed by “Firsts”.  Scrolling ahead to 2013, Olowu is now designing for none other than the giant urban retailer, JCPenney!

In an  interview by Bloun Artfino a French online magazine, the designer spoke about the FLOTUS wearing his designs:

“It’s a great honor. It’s a nice thing to have on your resume…(i)It’s really nice to have somebody who is not only a First Lady, but a great role model wearing my things quite regularly. She’s really democratic in her choices and she mixes things up. I’m a huge fan — of the administration and of her. We all are in England, everywhere in the world. I feel sort of honored and really thrilled that my things are also useful in that way. I don’t think that sort of wardrobe is just based on fantasy. It’s a mix of fantasy, practicality, and looking appropriate. It’s a nice thing.”

Although outfitting yourself in an entire Duro ensemble, with its seemingly random combination of hues, patterns and textures, will probably be more to the liking an eclectic taste in clothing, you can still pull off a colorful, beautifully bold African aesthetic with just a few pieces. A Duro  geometric-print top to wear with your favorite jeans, a fly skirt with a free-style pattern paired with a simple but elegant tailored blouse or one of the designer’s vivid satin shrugs to wear over a  solid top and bottom. Any of these combinations will be enough to set you apart from the ordinary. As for me…just color me eclectic!

Want to see more African designers? Click here!
I would rock/treasure these dresses.DURO: SUMMER 2012

Adorn You: Doro Olowu-SUMMER 2012 DESIGNS




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Amy Conton is a freelance writer and graphic designer living in New York, USA.


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