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With all the jazz-hands theatrics taking place across the London shows this season, it takes a lot to make a room of editors gasp. During the intimate salon-style presentations Duro Olowu was hosting at his cozy Mason’s Yard boutique on Monday, however, the designer prompted a collective intake of breath not with a surprise performance, but with—shock horror!—a gorgeous woman’s suit in a shimmering crushed velvet the color of a tequila sunrise.

Watching Olowu’s clothes paraded around the room by a duo of models—surrounded by hand-printed fabrics on the walls with traditional West African craft motifs, and everything from Clarice Cliff ceramics to a pensive Lynette Yiadom-Boakye painting of a young man—everything just felt right, for lack of a better word.

There’s the supreme confidence of his bold clashes of pattern, here arriving in the form of rhythmic block prints and a kind of blotted plaid that came in blue-yellow and brown-white, often placed directly side-by-side on dresses and knitted separates. Or the rich, kaleidoscopic florals that nodded to the ditzy post-war prints and tailoring worn by the steely working-class women in the films of Tony Richardson, including his transgressive 1961 masterpiece A Taste of Honey. Boldest of all was a razor-sharp knee-length coat and a ruffled cape in a glistening leopard print, the latter of which was styled atop a gorgeous bias-cut dress that combined the previously mentioned tangerine velvet with diagonal stripes.

But it takes an even greater confidence to let the details speak for themselves, which is Olowu’s calling card as much as his lively prints. Skirts and pants hit the models’ calves just so, while a series of slip dresses featured serpentine panels that led the eye around the curves of the body, from one point to the other, like the continuous narrative device of an Old Master painting. Gentle peaks on the shoulder were created by delicate, invisible bundles of stuffed tulle, and every dress included pockets for practicality. “When you find something that’s nicely designed and comfortable, that’s when you know it’s a keeper,” added Olowu, also citing the pioneering work of photographer Al Vandenberg, and his eye for finding the tiny sartorial quirks within the rich tapestry of characters he encountered on the street, as something of an inspiration.

Rumor also has it that none other than Pharrell Williams stopped by Olowu’s studio this week, perhaps in search of inspiration for his debut collection as the creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear in June. Sure, Olowu’s vision is a world away from the hype-driven model Williams will likely sustain when he takes up Virgil Abloh’s mantle. But Olowu’s precise and pragmatic approach to dressing—along with his willingness to let his customers peacock a little, too—is something we can all learn from.