TEXT AND IMAGES BY KIARA KABUKURU
Upon meeting Ozwald, whom you will most likely find in some hyper aroused social interaction, you first encounter his impressive physical presence: a dashing six foot five inch frame, usually dressed in an elegant vibrant colored three-piece suit of his own design. With a one two combo of magnetic force and intriguing banter, you are quickly drawn into Oz. It is as if he knows something meaningful he is willing to share with you immediately. If the idea of what some might call “an overwhelming personality” is making you think that this type is apt to trigger anxiety and jeopardize your standard golden mean of cool –not to worry– as he erupts into voluptuous laughter at both his own jokes and yours, his childlike warmth is revealed. At twenty-six the brazen Boateng was the youngest tailor ever to open on Saville Row. He is a tailor turned designer who has simultaneously left his unique stamp on Saville Row, making it more hip and accessible, and Menswear, making it more fun and accentuating the male form in a refreshingly hetero way.
Interestingly the Ashanti tribe of which Boateng is a descendent, has matriarchal roots, which means originally the gender roles were not as rigid so men were allowed to be a conglomerate of both sexes. This trait has carried over, Boeteng is at once intensely masculine while in secure possession of a distinctly feminine aura, the alpha male with a maternal side that’s always looking to literally feed and nurture anyone in his path, a novel commodity for sure. There is a real intuitive ease with polarity within him, which allows the ability to work within the known system whilst ostensibly throwing out all the rules.
Boateng’s long list of career high lights include creative direction for the house of Givenchy, costume design for Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Matrix, and Oceans 13, being the “Go to guy when you just have to kill it” for Will Smith, Gabriel Byrne, Jamie Foxx, Lenny Kravitz etc. etc… He has produced and directed a handful of smart short films as preludes to some of his collections, been honored with an OBE – U.K. acronym for – Officer Of the most Excellent Order of British Empire – basically the Queen’s honor roll.
In 2005 a trip to Ghana brings the plot of the second part of his life to the fore. After witnessing open sewage in Accra, he thinks, why with all the resources and technology available does this scenario continue to be the case. After extensive contemplation on the issue, Boateng concludes it is the result of many years of Africa being portrayed and believed to be backwards, corrupt, hopeless a charity case, a self fulfilling prophecy. The poverty and disorganization of most of Sub Saharan Africa does not have to be Africa’s future. He feels Africa needs positive P.R. advocates, an image overhaul. The conversation requires a shift of focus to Africa’s riches that include water, oil, minerals and the largest agricultural potential worldwide.
2007; Boateng recruits a group of prominent African Americans, getting them involved in the 9th Annual African Union Summit, there they meet with a number of Africa’s heads of state to discuss the future of a united Africa. The preliminary meeting includes Herbie Hancock, Jamie Foxx, Isaiah Washington, Chris Tucker and Mos Def. Boeteng foresees the galvanizing of African American’s interest in Africa as crucial to the message of unity as it is to demystify the continent and shed light on a lesser seen Africa, a safe, fun, and fascinating destination brimming with unprecedented opportunity.
2011; Boateng and a partner found the Made in Africa Foundation a fund supporting master plans and feasibility studies for transformational and large scale developments and infrastructure projects across the African continent. The goal of MIAF is to raise five hundred million, and with the support of the African Development Bank and Nigerian entrepreneur Kola Aluko, two hundred and fifty million has already been raised. The intention of MIAF is to ensure the growth of Africa is conscious, holistic and responsible, to build a network of cooperation among African countries and exercise all the knowledge garnered from years of trial and error regarding infrastructure functionality, avoiding mistakes that have complicated advancement in the past by implementing better solutions. The proper development of Africa would yield trillions of dollars for the world economy and lift millions out of poverty. Made in Africa is guiding this plan into certainty.
When not designing clothes or organizing projects, he is tending to his most important job as single dad to two well adjusted children, thirteen year old Emilia and ten year old Oscar. He, an involved father, chaperones slumber parties and cheerleads soccer games, managing all the juggling and soul searching to be anticipated with modern day parenting.
Boateng currently has a documentary out titled A Man’s Story chronicling twelve years of his life, in it he quotes his father as having said “son you were meant for greatness” evidently his father was right.
KOLA ALUKO, OZWALD BOATENG and KOLA ALUKO open MIAF LUNCHEON
OZWALD BOATENG at MIAF LUNCHEON
HRH Princess SIDI [daughter of HRM Queen AKASOBA and Duke ABIOLA and Chief M.K.O ABIOLA] attends NASDAQ opening
MIAF NY TIMES LUNCHEONJAMIE FOX and KOLA ALUKO
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