Duro Olowu Uses Feminist, Figurative Artist Emma Amos As Inspo For SS21

Nigerian-born British designer, Duro Olowu reveals latest collection inspired by the legendary Emma Amos.


The post-modern, figurative artist Emma Amos (1938-2020) has been accredited as the primary inspiration behind Duro Olowu’s latest Spring/Summer 21 collection, and it is simply irresistible. Amos has a unique and masterful use of colour which holds her work at a continuum and helps to produce an idiosyncratic style. Her deeply soothing rich palette of bright reds, browns, oranges, blues, yellows and green satisfies one to a peaceful harmony. Examples of the notable works include Sandy and Her Husband (1973), Eva the Babysitter (1973) and All I know is Wonder (2008). My personal favourite however is Baby (1966); this oil on canvas is a heavenly synthesis of colour and shape and is compositionally flawless. It is an artwork I desire greatly, one which would look banging in my living space above the sofa! Though I fear a print may have to do the trick. 


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The artist’s style is unique, though one can deduct apparent referencing to other creatives in the artistic canon. Its hard to miss the pictorial quoting of Henri Matisse in her use of abstract shape and Lucian Freud in her portraiture. Gauguin’s oeuvre also seems to have been awarded some reverence with a similar tonality, though she thankfully avoids his fetishisms of ethnic minorities which overwhelm the Tahitian-based works. 1960s New York is where Emma truly shone and her career took off. She was the youngest and only female member of African American collective of artists Spirital founded by Romare Beaden and Hale Woodruff. Amos also later joined the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of feminists/ female artists who sought to fight against systemic racial and gender inequalities within the arts. Guerrilla Girls will forever be one of my favourite artist rebellion groups, their apart confrontation to the institutional biases are incredible. Think to Do Women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum, the in famous poster the groups stuck up across the city; bloody marvellous.  


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Duro Olowu, Nigerian-born British designer, stated ‘I found myself reflecting on the fact that many of the same issues of race and gender inequality Amos experienced and confronted on her work, throughout an almost 60-year-long career, are still sadly very much is that plague society today’. ‘In a time during a global crisis, racial pandemic and a worldwide expression of outraged’ as eloquently summarised by Beyonce in her Dear Class of 2020 speech, we are forced to reflect on the biases that plague our society. One must continue this reflection, beyond the seemingly trend-like optical activism that Instagram info-graphics portray. It is visionaries, activists and artists like Emma Amos that other creatives should continue to celebrate. Using Amos and her painterly talents as a basis for a collection was a clever motive by Olowu- one that has produced some splendid garments and highlighted the legacy of Ms. Amos. 


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