Today we're paying tribute to two fashion icons and long time friends, renowned fashion designer Duro Olowu and eccentric fashionista Iris Apfel.
Duro Olowu, is a London based designer who has got a name so big that FLOTUS Michelle Obama wears his designs. He is also, amongst other achievements, the recipient of the 2005 British Fashion Week New Designer of the Year award. He began his career in law, but decided to follow his true passion and launched his eponymous label in October 2004. It was here that he revealed what has since become known as the "Duro dress", an empire-line dress inspired by the Yoruba boubou.
Growing up, Olowu travelled a lot between Nigeria, where he was born, and the UK. Unsurprisingly, this multicultural background has influenced his designs. In a 2012 interview with Helen Jennings, he says “I grew up travelling a lot so I love many different things...My work now is about authenticity. I thrive on the visual overload of juxtaposing colours and prints and aim to make clothes for the international free spirit.”
Olowu has maintained strong connections to the Nigerian fashion scene and is impressed by the advances fashion from Africa has made in recent years. "There is so much potential right now and I know big brands and investors are looking very hard at Africa." We wholeheartedly agree with Olowu and are doing our part to promote our African-based designers. Other indications of Africa's growing footprint in the fashion world are the various African fashion weeks held around the world.
Iris Apfel, who will be 95 in August, continues to turn heads with her bold and unconventional fashion sense. She began her career in interior design and set up a textile company with her husband Carl Apfel in the 1050's. Their unique offering specialising in restorational furnishings had a loyal customer following, including the White House.
But what has kept Iris so relevant is her sense of style, which is the perfect combination between fashion, interior design and art. In 2005, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcased her exuberant personal collection of accessories, fabrics and garments.
Her signature oversized Harry Potteresque glasses are but one of the ways in which this tiny woman is larger than life. Her sharp wit is evident in her attitude to life. Here are a few of our favourite Iris Apfel quotes:
"There's no how-to road map to style. It's about self-expression and, above all, attitude"
"I'm not pretty, and I'll never be pretty, but it doesn't matter. I have something much better. I have style"
“More is more, and less is a bore”
"I don't have any rules, because I'd only be breaking them"
In Iris, a documentary about her life, we get a glimpse of Iris and Duro's friendship and mutual appreciation of fashion. Duro escorts Iris to an African store in Harlem, New York, where she is looking for arm bands. Iris haggles with the shop attendant and Duro asks Iris, "How did you get that price" "I can't get that price". She responds "I'm cheap." We love that she said that because you don't have to spend alot of money to look good.
We just love how these two icons have shown us that it's ok to be unique, colourful and creative with your fashion choices. Like Iris says, "Life is gray and dull; you might as well have a little fun when you dress." If you're looking for more style inspiration, here are some fashionista's you could follow on IG.
Also, check out this charming video of Duro interviewing Iris at the London Zoo: