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it’s not just about the suit – it’s about the experience they are going to have in the suit, so people are very emotional about it.” In response to the growing demand for men’s tailoring, which has even spilled over into casual wear, Ozwald is planning major expansion, with new stores set to open in places like China, the Middle East and Africa as well as another store in London. “From a fashion trends perspective, it’s perfect.” Ozwald is also happy that men’s fashion finally has a platform of its own, in the form of the London Collections: Men, which launched earlier this year. “I’ve been banging on to the Fashion Council about doing something for men,” he says. “It’s brilliant.” While he plans to participate in the January men’s shows, he


says he’s also ready now to do womenswear and will be showcasing a few pieces at the end of this month in Moscow during Russian Fashion Week. “I think I need another creative challenge and I think doing womenswear will push me,” he says. Ozwald has been lucky to have a network of individuals who have supported him throughout his career, including LVMH chief Bernauld Arnault who had “confidence and belief” in his business and Yves Carcelle, the boss of Louis Vuitton and a “dear friend, client and mentor”. Another close friend is Ben Silverman, whose film House of Boateng followed the designer as he launched his flagship store in Los Angeles, raising his profile in the US. Ozwald was once again centre stage in 2007, when he was invited by the President of the Republic of Ghana John Agyekum Kufuor to design and orchestrate a show in which some of the most prominent individuals of African decent highlighted what could be done if they stood together. The historic state banquet at the ninth Annual African Union Summit held in Accra, Ghana,


coincided with 200 years since the cessation of the transatlantic slave trade and 50 years of independence for Ghana. The event, attended by presidents and representatives of 53 African nations, plus dignitaries from across the globe, was basically to promote development and trade in Africa. “The net result was that a lot of these African presidents were


very inspired and they re-examined how they could develop their countries,” says Ozwald. “Now there are huge amounts of money available in Africa for infrastructure that weren’t there before and that’s all on the back of the work that has been done. “Plus there was a big issue during this period that Africa was


a charity case. If I see a kid with AIDS with flies all over it who is starving, how am I ever going to think there’s any money to be made? In terms of Africa, people see it as all one thing but there is a population of a billion. So there was a need to move that charity position to a trade position. Now when you talk about Africa, all you hear is investment. So that was the significance of the event.”


This year saw another big moment for Ozwald, with the


release of A Man’s Story – a film that takes the viewer on a behind-the-scenes journey into the life of Ozwald and the world of high fashion, ending in 2010 when he closed London Fashion Week with the biggest menswear show in history. The 90-minute documentary, which covers a period of 12 years, goes into the very heart of what Ozwald has spent his entire career trying to distil – “what it is to be a man”.


When he first watched it, Ozwald admits he was in shock.


“It’s funny because I’ve been having to deal with myself for a long time and, as a designer, you start detaching yourself from who you are. So the first two or three times I saw the film, it was too emotional for me – it was really difficult. “A friend of mine said, what was interesting about this is usually someone is only able to see their life in that amount of detail when they are dying – they say your whole life flashes by before your eyes. Scary right? “But the film is interesting because it’s a series of different experiences that I’ve had and for every person who watches it, it’s a different thing. It’s a film that is finding its own way – and as a man you are always trying to find your own way. So even though it’s about me, it’s about all men because there is a perception of what men should be and what they should do. And I think, as a woman, if you want a bit of an insight into how men tick, this is definitely a film for you.”


ABOVE AND BELOW LEFT: CLOTHES FROM OZWALD BOATENG’S AUTUMN/ WINTER COLLECTION


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