We’ve all encountered iconic pieces from Poltrona Frau over the years, whether it’s the Dezza by Gio Ponti or a more recent hit like the Archibald by Jean-Marie Massaud. And while they’re classics for a reason, it’s always exciting—and important—when these tried-and-true designs get a contemporary update. Enter one of the Italian brand’s more recent collaborations: a capsule collection with English fashion designer Ozwald Boateng.
The son of Ghanian immigrants, Boateng has had a long career on London’s prestigious Savile Row, opening his first retail outpost there in 1995, and subsequently serving as the creative director of Givenchy’s menswear line from 2004 to 2007. In Hollywood, Will Smith, Spike Lee, Daniel Day Lewis, and others have worn his designs; he even created pieces for the Black Panther movies.
What has characterized Boateng’s work over the years is impeccable tailoring, of course, but also his bold use of color and pattern in fabrics. Those same design philosophies can be found in his work for Poltrona Frau, which sees the revered line of Chester seats and the Vanity Fair armchair reupholstered in bright yellows, deep purples, and rich reds.
For Boateng, the crossover from Savile Row to Italian design felt a natural one. “The intersection of furniture and interior design with the realm of fashion is captivating,” he tells ELLE DECOR. “They all share a common thread of aesthetics, form, and function.”
The biggest challenge from a technical perspective? Creating a new technique for embossing leather, which took over six months to develop but proved essential to the collection’s ethos. The resulting imprinted patterns take cues from traditional Kente cloth, an homage to Boateng’s Ghanaian heritage and a motif echoed throughout his tailoring work.
In addition to the furniture, Boateng’s new line also includes accessories, such as vases, candles, and even a Mancala set. It’s the reimagining of Poltrona Frau’s classics, though, that’s paramount to the fashion designer. “To me, this encapsulates the essence of design—taking tradition and evolving it to prevent stagnation and ensure its continued relevance,” he says. “If tradition doesn’t evolve, it dies.”
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