Nigerian-born Duro Olowu is a lawyer turned-designer, based in London, U.K., and is one U.S. first lady Michelle Obama’s favourite fashion artists.
Born in Lagos Nigeria, to a Nigerian father and a Jamaican mother, Olowu’s profile is on the rise again as J.C. Penney, a major American retailer, operating 1,102 department stores in 49 states of U.S. and Puerto Rico recently announced a partnership with the London, U.K.-based designer.
|Michele Obama in Duro Olowu|
Olowu will be Penney’s first "seasonal designer," releasing a limited-edition collection for spring 2013.
According to Olowu, "This collection is for anyone, from 18 to 80... Everything has a flattering element, whether you mix prints or pull out one piece and keep it simple." It will include clothes, bags, shoes jewelry and other accessories. The collection due to hit JC Penney stores in March 2013 will retail for $10-$100.
Some of Olowu’s brightly printed designs have attracted the fancy of Mrs Obama. Other high profile lovers of Olowu’s designs include top Hollywood actress Uma Thurman and one of Canadian leading models, Linda Evangelista.
Olowu’s bio says being raised in Nigeria and England, offered better environment to develop his love for designing.
When Duro was younger, he developed an enthusiasm for fashion, and became inspired by the mixture of colors, rich texture of clothing worn by the women around him. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became a lawyer but later gave it up to follow his dream of becoming a fashion designer.
In October 2004, he launched his first self-titled women’s wear label with a collection for Spring/Summer 2005. The collection was inspired by a theme of ‘love and joy’.
Olowu was named New Designer of the Year during the 2005 British Fashion Week in London, only one year after the launching of his label!
He has the skill to take the bold pattern and color from his African heritage - but to use the shades and patterns to mix prints in a modern way. The effect of an old English rose floral, shown against a leopard print, was powerful and so was the idea of taking the same print in different colors and putting them together in one garment.
Above all, Olowu's clothes never look ethnic, the prints confined to streamlined, modern clothes. The result was a collection that seemed to bring out something in the designer's soul - but also to relate that to the modern closet.