You might recognize Duro Olowu’s work before you recognize his name. His 2005 debut collection featured a vibrant, printed silk dress, now known as “The Duro.” It was so chic, easy to wear and figure-flattering that fashion editors the world over declared it the dress of the year.
Your work is grounded in your Nigerian roots. What was your child-hood like?
We would often go on holiday and my mother would buy all of these silks and take them back to her dressmaker. Those silhouettes influenced me. And so I learned at a very young age that what we were lacking in Africa was that kind of supple silk. Everything in Nigeria was made of these sharp fabrics like cotton. So I grew up with this obsession of transferring that cotton reel of cultures to silk.
Your Duro dress has been copied and re-copied. And ethnic prints, your signature, are very trendy for summer.
It’s good to have influenced things; it’s flattering. But it’s just annoying when it’s badly done. It’s tough because I own my business 100 percent. But it’s really something when people refer to a dress using your name. It’s a privilege.