Ozwald Boateng, the youngest black designer to open a business on London’s Savile Row in 1995, is bringing his talents to New York City. For the first time ever, the British designer of Ghanian descent will design a womenswear collection in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance — an intellectual, social, and artistic explosion centred in Harlem, New York, spanning the 1920s.
According to WWD, the show will be a celebration of culture, diversity, music, history, and fashion, “starting with a short film on Africanism, and guiding us into the future of AI,” according to the company. On May 5, the Savile Row designer will showcase an immersive fashion experience at the Apollo theatre in Harlem, showcasing the brand’s women’s and men’s collection.
Last May, Boateng told Refinery29 that when he started his career, race was not something that he initially wanted to address. “You wouldn’t talk about [race],” Boateng, now age 51, said, recalling the press surrounding his first Givenchy collection in Paris. Though he made history as the first black creative director at a legacy fashion house, he didn’t focus on identity politics. “There was a certain political correctness. You wouldn’t want to bring emphasis [to the fact that someone is Black]. Now, you do,” he added, attributing this shift in global mindset to Barack Obama’s two-term presidency.
“Now, I’ve reached a place where I’m more vocal [about race],” Boateng said. “My work has a strong African identity without being what you would normally expect.”