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November 13, 2012

LM Series: Duro Olowu's Umbrellas for Outset

This is the second installment of the LM Series, documenting the discovery of new and wonderful, world class, art and food during 'Le Méridien at Frieze' at which I was a guest in October, hosted by Le Méridien Piccadilly in London. Watch for the Duro Olowu for Outset umbrella giveaway tomorrow!

Duro Olowu introduces his umbrella installation for OFT at Frieze Art Fair, with Candida Gertler, co-founder of Outset

It was a thrilling surprise to see Duro Olowu's name on the itinerary for my three art-packed days in London with Le Méridien at Frieze. In this case, the beloved fashion designer was seen as more of an artist due to his collaboration with Outset, a philanthropic organisaton dedicated to supporting new art. With the aim of bringing attention to and raising funds for the Outset/Frieze Art Fair Fund to Benefit the Tate Collection (OFT), this special commission was introduced as an installation on the special preview day at Frieze to celebrate the 10th anniversary of OFT this autumn. It was enthusiastically received and that was as much due to the affable charm of the designer as it was the beautiful umbrellas. (I had heard Duro was genuinely lovely and it's true!)

Two exclusive, limited edition designs in Duro's signature fabrics - one in vibrant multi-colour (edition of 500) and the other a bold black and white graphic (edition of 1000) - are available to buy in the shops at Tate Britain and Tate Modern for £85 and £65, respectively (not online at this time). And I have one in the multi-colour to give away to a Swelle reader - watch for details tomorrow, 14 November. Thanks to the generosity of Le Méridien, I have the black and white version for myself and I absolutely love it, it's a very high quality umbrella (of course!) and the fabric is just gorgeous, it makes rainy days instantly cheery. (And it gets lots of compliments whenever I go out with it.)

Duro's Limited Edition umbrellas displayed at Frieze in a large tree installation

I became besotted with Duro's original and vibrant clothes - those magnificent textures! - when I first laid eyes on them a few years ago. An irresistible blend of his Jamaican-Nigerian heritage and chic cuts, how can you not fall in love:


Duro Olowu AW12

Duro Olowu SS13

I was lucky enough to speak with Duro for a few minutes; he was full of smiles and happy to talk about what he does, and he's just so pure and genuine about it it's easy to see how his clothes have their specialness. There's no doubt they are all Duro. He told me that when he designs it's very spontaneous, it comes to him and he's off. 

More formally,  Duro explains his creative process behind the final umbrella designs in his artist statement:

"My original design for Outset's 10 year anniversary was inspired by the range and breadth of artists and projects that Outset has supported since its inception. Once I fully digested this diversity of media, geography and aesthetic points of view, my aim was to represent this broad spectrum with abstract shapes and patterns. The design evokes in a contemporary way the decorated umbrella which has for centuries been a fixture in parades, coronations and other celebratory occasions around the world."

Duro's designs elicit an excitement, a glorious energy that is right in line with what one would be feeling at a celebration. In that sense, Frieze, with its endless aisles of world class art and colourful characters roaming the floor and taking it all in, was an especially fitting event for the launch.

1-Duro_notebookThe leftover umbrella fabric was used to make vibrant notebooks , available at Tate shops for £12

We loved Duro's shoes! (And I forgot to ask who did them)

Duro and Candida (wearing a Duro Olowu jacket) with Jérôme Sans, Cultural Curator for Le Méridien

Photos #1, 5 and 6: Dave Watts Photography ©


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