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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

#SuzyLFW: Duro Olowu — Pattern, Colour and Louche Elegance

The London designer's painterly approach to spring/summer 2016

23 Сентября 2015


A mischievous mix of prints, an intriguing rear view, an effortless elegance… The shows that linger in the mind are often unexpected.

Duro Olowu presented his collection in an elegant private home — the antithesis of the Soho car park that was this season’s location for London Fashion Week.

Duro Olowu and a model at his spring/summer 2016 presentation, held in a private home in London
Duro Olowu and a model at his spring/summer 2016 presentation, held in a private home in London

His inspiration was Amrita Sher-Gil, a significant Hungarian/Indian woman painter of the 1930s known as “India’s Frida Kahlo”. To Duro, the painter’s sense of colour and artistic empathy with her subjects were compelling. He translated her spirit by creating what he described as “a feminine silhouette with that louche elegance that’s always intriguing to me”.

This season Duro favoured a knee-length silhouette, as shown in this belted dress
This season Duro favoured a knee-length silhouette, as shown in this belted dress

This London-based designer with a multi-cultural outlook showed me his spring/summer 2016 collection, with its apparently effortless mixes of colour and pattern, often with a surprising exit line. That meant that a dress in a geometric pattern of moss green turned to show the same design in black and white at the back; or a tumble of patterns from fat pink roses to tiny black-and-white polka dots to a bouquet of florals all melded into a single summer dress.

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Duro’s inspiration for this collection was Amrita Sher-Gil, a woman painter from the 1930s known as “India’s Frida Kahlo”

Duro’s inspiration for this collection was Amrita Sher-Gil, a woman painter from the 1930s known as “India’s Frida Kahlo”

For this collection Duro combined different fabrics within one dress for a painterly effect

For this collection Duro combined different fabrics within one dress for a painterly effect


We see so much pattern on the current fashion catwalks, but it is rare to see print perfectly aligned with the design of the clothes. Duro favoured a long, lean body with hemline elongated to over the knee — the better to show low, pointed-toe shoes with a glazed surface designed in collaboration with Paul Andrew.

Duro collaborated with Paul Andrew on the shoes for spring/summer 2016, favouring flats with pointed toes, some with a glazed surface (right)
Duro collaborated with Paul Andrew on the shoes for spring/summer 2016, favouring flats with pointed toes, some with a glazed surface (right)

I was not convinced by a kaftan with colour and pattern rippling like waves. But the Duro Olowo message was elegant for evening, with a softy tiered dress printed with peonies and a waft of green feathers as a cover up. That was one if the most appealing dresses I saw for the next spring/summer season.


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