A Web Exclusive with Ozwald Boateng and Varon Bonicos

STUDIO: Ozwald, you've just finished your fashion show as part of London Fashion Week, and starred in a film about your life called A Man's Story.  Varon, what made you decide to produce a film about this man?

Varon Bonicos: I was working at Sky TV making documentaries at that time, and someone told me about Ozwald, [that] he's a really interesting guy.  They said if I could get a canon camera and everything, I could meet him.  So I went and I sat down with him.  Afterwards, I was like, "God this guy is really interesting!"  I was flown up for a few weeks before his fashion show in 1998, and during that period of time, fortunately and unfortunately, so many scenarios occurred in his life.  It was one thing after another, after another, and he was just powering through.  That's why it's called A Man's Story.  That's what I wanted to capture.


STUDIO: Was the theme of your 2010 fashion show 'A Man's Story' named after the documentary?

Ozwald Boateng: Yeah, I named it after the movie.  The reason why, was to celebrate that the documentary was finished! (laughs)  I was like opening my bottle of champagne shouting, "It's over!"


VB: When was that?  Two years ago?


OB: Yeah, two years ago.  I genuinely made the fashion show to celebrate the end of this chapter.  I also did the fashion show to really understand what that journey was about.  The question I put to myself was, 'At what point do you become a man?'  Is it when you're eighteen, forty or sixty?  A friend of mine said, you're not a man until you lose your father.  I was like, "That's a bit hard!"  But the reasoning was, you're not a man until you no longer have your father to rely on.  At that moment, I realised that I haven't really celebrated my Dad in my achievements.  So when I decided to do this fashion show, I knew I was going to dedicate it to him.  At the end of the show, I went to the side door and brought him on stage with me.  He was able to experience what I experience.  He was seeing it from my perspective, and in that moment he knew what it felt for me.


STUDIO: Why did you choose to film for twelve years?  What did you want to see accomplished before rounding up filming?

VB: There were no objectives or planning.  It just evolved.  I mean, how are supposed to know what happens in life, right?  The reason I stopped filming was because I suddenly had an echo of the beginning, and I realised he came full circle.


STUDIO: A Man's Story is a very personal documentary and delves quite deep into your life.  Was privacy an issue for you, Ozwald?

OB: Yeah, I didn't know what it was going be [like] until it was finished.  Varon is very gifted at not being seen or heard for you to realise, so I kind of had indictors over the period.  But I didn't know.  When I saw the end result it was very difficult to watch, and it took me two weeks for me to even talk to him about it.  But then I quickly got over that, because he's done a very powerful piece of work.  Obviously, there was sensitivity in it, but then I realised that the story that was being told was every man's story.  If you don't get too hung up about me, and you take it as a story of life, then you'll really enjoy this film, and you'll really enjoy the experience for what it is.


STUDIO: Ozwald, we see you produce a few short films in the documentary.  Is that something you'd like to explore on a feature level sometime with your A-List client friends, like Will Smith and Paul Bettany?

OB: Yes, most definitely.  It's now just a question of time for me, but absolutely.


STUDIO: Not only are you a fashion designer and filmmaker, but you're a political activist with your Made In Africa foundation.  What do you wish to achieve with this campaign?

OB: The aim is to recognise the value of Africa in terms of asset value.  The land in Africa is significant - it controls so many resources, and what it needs is a very developed infrastructure.


STUDIO: What's on the horizon for Ozwald Boateng in the upcoming years?

OB: The plan is to open more stores, keep developing the Made In Africa foundation, and make movies!



Words by Toyin Ayinde.


A Man's Story opens in cinemas March 9th.

"There were no objectives or planning. It just evolved. I mean, how are supposed to know what happens in life, right?"
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