Osvald Boateng is a self-made man in a world based on connections and wealth. Osvald's god-given talent, drive, and singular drive to succeed as a men's tailor on Savile Row is a fascinating story.
This movie doesn't tell much about Ozwald's beginnings being raised in London by parents from Ghana. Included is one sentence from his mother telling how as a child he taught himself how to construct suits at home with sheets of brown paper cluttering the apartment. The movie tells the story of Ozvald after he's already become famous, then loses his first foothold in the fashion business as well as his first wife, only to meet another muse/wife who gives him the confidence to rebuild another fantastic empire. He's a brilliant talent in the most meticulous Savile Row tailoring techniques, but mixes up the classic cashmere, gabardine & chalk stripes w/dazzling jewel toned fabrics stimulated by his Afrocentricity and color genius & creates the most exquisite men's clothing imaginable.
I had already seen his stunning menswear before I saw this movie, and knew he was an extraordinary talent. However I never knew much about how difficult it is to sustain an empire such as the one he built from dazzling talent and sheer guts. He was the first black designer on Savile Row. The prejudice he must have faced is barely mentioned in this movie. He jokes about how he turned it around to his advantage when he was the only black man in Red Square when he visited Russia with his second wife.
He dresses Prince Charles, Hollywood nouveau riche brothers like Forest Whitaker & Jamie Foxx and Dubai billionaires in the finest and coolest threads a man can buy. His men's wear shows in Paris and London are unreal spectacles of glamour with gorgeous men of all races walking around in clothing out of a dream world. However, behind the scenes, you get to experience Ozwald's frustration and chaos when there are power failures and no lights on the runway, promoters that won't let his crews begin work until deposit checks arrive, etc. He briefly discusses his horrendous struggles w/bankers in a perilously cutthroat business. One season, his entire collection was stolen by "burglars". He's a workaholic, and his beautiful Russian model wife eventually gets lonely since he's never around, and cheats on him which breaks his heart, and thus, he divorces again.
This is a fascinating documentary of a one-of-a-kind character. I wish it was longer. I'd love to see footage of his childhood, where he grew up and taught himself to sew. I'd love to see interviews with people who knew him when he first broke into the fashion business. This kind of drive is so rare, it's mesmerizing to watch this man who started as the least likely character one could imagine to compete with the likes of Giorgio Armani become a respected peer and icon at the top of the profession where as a child he dreamed he belonged. He literally made his dream come true, but the cost was his personal relationships. His children will probably do just fine. Amazing story. Great movie.
A Man's Story
A Man's Story
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Tailor to Hollywood's A-list, and a superstar in his own right, Ozwald Boateng is a dynamic force of energy, passion and colour. 1998: already celebrated as one of the most talented menswear designers in the world, Ozwald Boateng is about to go bankrupt and divorce his first wife. Through luck and circumstance director Varon Bonicos is able to switch on a camera. It continues to roll for the next twelve years. What emerges is a groundbreaking film that takes us on an exhilarating behind-the-scenes ride into the world of high fashion with one of one of the most influential menswear designers of his generation. Ending in 2010 when Boateng closes London Fashion Week with the biggest menswear show in history, Bonicos is able to get behind the headlines and chart Boateng's singular dream to succeed. Instinctive, flawed and generous, A Man's Story goes to the very heart of what Boateng has spent an entire career trying to distil: "what it is to be a man."
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