The designer marked a century since the Harlem Renaissance with a show at The Apollo Theater


Ozwald Boateng OBE marked the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance with a landmark fashion show at The Apollo Theater last week. The British Ghanaian designer’s famous friends, including Idris Elba, Jamie Foxx, Dapper Dan and Edward Enninful, filled the front row of this historic Harlem music hall to mark Boateng’s return to New York for this very special occasion.

The evening opened with a beautiful performance from The Harlem Orchestra, followed by a short film expressing Boateng’s dedication to “authentic intelligence”. Then the models began to appear and walk the length and breadth of the Apollo’s auditorium, among them actor Michael K. Williams and musician Jidenna, who joined around 60 models including Nataal’s favourite faces Adesuwa Aighewi, Dennis Okwera and Joani Johnson.

Boateng took style notes from the cultural movement birthed in this storied African American neighbourhood a century ago to shape the collection. From his signature razor sharp, jewel-toned suits in luxurious wools, velvets and leathers to silky shirts and robes in peacock feather and ankara inspired prints, it was an epic presentation exuding a sexy and salubrious attitude.

This offering, paired with the diverse casting and on point styling by Boateng’s long-time collaborators Art Comes First, made for a powerful and moving presentation. The experience was rounded off with a spellbinding song by gospel opera singer John Holiday.

Photography Aaron Laserna, Malcolm McNeil
Words Helen Jennings

Published on 11/05/2019