‘Material’ at Salon 94: An Exhibit of Fashion Designer Duro Olowu’s Favorite Things

NEW YORK—Down a small alley just off Bowery Street, an explosion of color, prints and textures has taken over a small gallery. Over the weekend, two middle-aged women entered the space and one of them declared, “This looks like all of Duro’s favorite things.”

Indeed, “Material,” curated by Duro Olowu to coincide with Fashion Week, is his inspiration board cum boutique-style curiosity shop. The gallery is bursting with art, photography, music, books and furniture and fashion by artists and designers he admires from around the world, as well as the London-based designer’s own clothing.

The exhibit and pop-up shop at Salon 94’s Freemans Alley Gallery features the elaborate gowns, dresses and mixed-print skirts for which Olowu has gained critical acclaim and praise from the fashion world since he launched his label in 2004.

His designs are complemented by mirrors from London-based architect David Adjaye, woven canvases by New York artist Tony Cox, sculptures by Ghanaian artist Paa Joe, t-shirts by Tory Burch, vintage photography by Malian photographer Hamidou Maiga, drawings by Lorna Simpson, a selection of rare essential vinyl records, vintage West African textiles and rare fabrics from couture fabric makers such as Abraham of Switzerland, and a limited-edition tome from contemporary artist Glenn Ligon, among many other gems.

Olowu, who is of Jamaican-Nigerian descent, has a London store in Maisons Yard Saint James curated with what the gallery describes as “a diverse assemblage of ‘things’ that have captivated and inspired him and his work.” The group show at Salon 94 introduces the concept to New York.

In the release for “Material,” Olowu states: “My work, like my eye, is certainly international in its aesthetic, offbeat yet focused. As such, I am always open to the surprise of the new, the technique and skill of the past and the ability of fashion and art to challenge preconceived ideas of taste and culture.”

The group show/pop-up shop is open from Feb. 8 to March 10, 2012.

All photos by Arts Observer

Above, from left, “Regensburg No. 61” (c-print, edition 1/5) by Juergen Teller; “Six Feet Under the Sun,” 2011 (yarn on canvas) by Tony Cox; Senufo (wood bird sculpture). Top of page, far left, “Orange Hearts,” 2010 (acrylic on canvas) by Katherine Bernhardt; bottom right, and works by various artists, with dresses by Duro Olowu.

Handmade books by Tony Cox.

Clockwise, from top left, “Untitled (Portrait of Seated Woman in Elaborate Dress with Turban)”; “Untitled (Full-length Portrait of Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Almost Identical Dress”; “Untitled (Full-length Portrait of a Young Woman with a Handbag”; “Untitled (Full-length Portrait of a Young Couple)” (all four circa 1950, gelatin silver prints) from Photographers Paramount.

“Untitled (Prostitute),” 2011 (hardwood and oil paint) by Paa Joe, a Ghanaian artist who makes coffin sculptures.

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