Ozwald Boateng Immersive Fashion Show at The Apollo Theater
Despite the rainy weather, there was a huge turnout for London-born Ghanaian designer Ozwald Boateng’s Fashion Show. History and fashion collided that evening in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, the transformative artistic and intellectual explosion that swept through the community a century ago. As a resident of Harlem, I was excited since this was my first time stepping foot into the renowned Apollo Theater. As I weaved through the back hallways trying to find my seat, I thought about all the legends who have passed through before.
I was seated in the midst of enthusiastic fashion students and next to a women who happened to be a documentary filmmaker for Boateng years prior. She told me how proud she was of him to display his talents at a legendary space like the Apollo, especially with his debut womenswear collection.
Boateng became the first black head designer for a luxury fashion house when he was appointed as Givenchy’s creative director of menswear in 2003. He is known for his trademark colorful suits, as seen in Black Pantherand on Spike Lee when he received his Oscar for BlacKkKlansman earlier this year.
I was seated behind the conductor with two balconies of orchestra in full view. After much anticipation the lights dimmed and the orchestra began to play with a sensational start, accompanying a short film on Africanism and the future of “Artistic Intelligence.” Then a heavy beat dropped over the speakers as models walked across the stage in pairs of two or three, strutting down the aisles turned into a makeshift runway. They wore bright, colorful patterns that fused classic British tailoring with a twist of avant-garde design.
Boateng pulled out all the stops for his debut womenswear collection. The energy of the show was electric and truly celebrated diversity, diaspora, music, history, and fashion. For the grand finale, models lined up across the stage as John Holiday belted an operatic number. At last, Boateng bowed to a standing ovation in a forest green suit.