Since launching his eponymous label in 2008, Osman Yousefzada has forged a niche in luxury womenswear with an intellectual approach to design, exploring and cross pollinating with other creative disciplines, garnering numerous awards. He is one of the brightest stars in international fashion. With the opening of the House of Osman in Fitzrovia in 2018, in a historic Georgian townhouse in Fitzrovia, he unveiled a vision of the future of his brand – a holistic world of art and design.
Osman’s family background gave him a grounding in both technique and aesthetics. He grew up in an extraordinarily conservative and religious milieu, the son of Afghan and Pakistani migrants, in Birmingham. He comes from a family of artisans – his father was a carpenter from a long line of carpenters, his mother was a tailor. He could cut and sew before he was 10. His formal training and education was similarly offbeat and shaped his perspective on design, from fashion stints at Central St Martins in London to an MPhil at Cambridge University, and anthropological studies at the School of African and Oriental Studies in the capital. The result is what he calls a “migrant soup” aesthetic – a rich mix of theology, ritual, contemporary European art and the crossing of continental and cultural borders.
From the red carpet to the office, with an exotic swirl of Talitha Getty in the 1960s and a rainbow of hand embroidery in India, Osman’s aesthetic is grounded in exemplary cutting. Before launching his own label, he was head of tailoring at Joseph. While the Osman silhouette is big on sculptural and architectural details, he is fixated with the fit of the perfect jacket and the perfect pair of pants. His obsession with tailoring led to the launch of The Perfect Five – a utilitarian, chic capsule collection for the Osman woman to come back to, season after season: Five pairs of pants; five tops, five coats; five knits … As Osman describes: “I am simplifying the dynamic of shopping with the ultimate modular wardrobe.”
He was nominated for the Designs of the Year Award at the Design Museum in 2008 and shortlisted for the Frieze Art Award in 2014. He was shortlisted for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund the same year and has been shortlisted every year since. He has a strong history collaboration – from Mango and John Lewis to the avant-garde. In June 2018 he staged his first solo art exhibition, Being Somewhere Else, a show about cultural displacement, and the female experience of dominance and, subsequently, empowerment at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Shortly afterwards, he took part in the Volcano Extravaganza in Stromboli, collaborating closely with a group of other invited artists and performers.
The House of Osman at 32 Percy Street was conceived as part atelier and boutique, but also – with artwork curated by Milovan Farranoto of the Fiorucci Art Trust – as the bricks and mortar realisation of The Collective journal which Osman creates on an annual basis. The designer is intrigued by, and thrives on, collaboration. This elegant and historic building space – which he had blessed by a witch before opening to assert the power of ritual over everything from the private fittings for celebrities to the atelier in which he sketches – represents the next step in the Osman narrative. His clothes appear on camera worn by Beyoncé, Thandie Newton, Emma Watson, and Taylor Swift, but it’s the House that creates the energy and the look that defines the label – it is a place for events, performance and ideas; a crucible for someone with one of the most interesting perspectives in art and design in London today.