Le Mill launches celeb-favourite label Osman Studio
London-based designer Osman Yousefzada talks about his India debut
After showcasing his elegantly sculptural, modern tailoring on the London Fashion Week catwalks for years, Osman Yousefzada is set to bring his eponymous label to India this month. The Birmingham-raised Afghani designer, who is known for his innovative cuts, complex drapery and bold colour, adds a distinct edge to his looks with unexpected elements—an asymmetric hem here, a flourish of flouncy fabric there—so it’s no wonder today that his immensely flattering designs, infused with a unique architectural appeal, often find their way into celebrity wardrobes (think Lady Gaga, Tilda Swinton and even Queen Bey).
He has also become something of a firm favourite with celebrities (and their stylists) in India—Sanjana Batra, Aastha Sharma and Shaleena Nathani have brought his designs to many a Bollywood red carpet. Yousefzada talks to us about the risk of being typecast, where he finds inspiration and even the Indian designer he loves.
ELLE: Why are you launching in India?
Osman Yousefzada: A friend introduced Cecilia Morelli Parikh and Julie Leymarie [of Mumbai’s Le Mill] to me—I soon fell in love with them and their store. We talked about doing something in Mumbai and here I am, launching at one of the most beautiful stores in India, close enough to my heritage, and in one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world.
ELLE: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
OY: Feminine, slightly edgy with a hint of arty fun. I always want the women who wear my clothes to feel that they are putting on something flattering—clothing that makes them feel like a better version of themselves. My clothes sculpt the body, have a sense of drama and a want to be noticed; yet it doesn’t feel like the wearer has tried too hard. Everything is eventually balanced through my tailoring.
ELLE: How much does your Afghan heritage add to your style?
OY: My mum is from Afghanistan and my dad from the bordering region of Pakistan. Born in England and growing up in the Asian community, I’ve always been attracted to its heritage, whether it’s colour, embroidery, fabric or silhouettes. Afghan kutchi silhouettes are quite unique, but they have always have been adapted as bohemian in the west. Our embroidery is delicate and geometric, and I am slowly bringing some of the influences into my work, however I have tried to stay away from being too typecast as an ethnic designer working in the west. Or falling prey to the cliché of east meets west. I see my work as based on tailoring and bringing an exotic Eastern flourish.
ELLE: What moves you? Where do you find inspiration?
OY: Finding inspiration is easy. You can be on the bus, see someone inspiring, and design a whole collection around him or her—the way they wear their coat, their attitude, their primness, their roughness or edginess, the way they layer their clothes. This is apart from the obvious places of inspiration—like museums, paintings and artists.
ELLE: Who is the Osman woman and what does she want?
OY: I think the Osman woman is independent, strong, and wants to stand out and be confident in what she wears. She looks for individuality.
ELLE: What is the must-have from your fall/winter 2016-17 collection?
OY: I think the poppy print is key. I have hand-drawn all the prints and then turned them into a brocade. The watery brush strokes hover in the fabric, and you can see so many different layers.
ELLE: Do you know the fashion scene in India? Any designers you’ve liked?
OY: I love India, and travel there as much as I can. The last time was a few years ago; I have quite a few good friends there, and if time allows I’m always up for a trip. There are some great designers—Sabyasachi to name one, I love his store in Kolkata, and the way he uses storytelling in his brand is so unique.
ELLE: You’ve dressed several celebrities—do you have a favourite?
OY: You can’t ask me that question! It would be like asking who your favourite child is! They are all great and all my favourite, and I am really very honoured to have dressed them all.
ELLE: If you weren’t a fashion designer, what would you be?
OY: I would be a dancer. I love movement, I love dancing; I suppose that could be my night job!
Photograph: Manasi Sawant. Styling: Pasham Alwani. Make-up and Hair: Florian Hurel at Dessange