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Nigerian Duro Oluwo was one of a selection of designers drafted in to create a spectacular Christmas display at the White House in Washington DC.

It has become a tradition in the US for the President’s wife to invite a number of designers to put their personal stamp on a room each and under the Obama administration, the multicultural aspect has been enhanced even further. This year designers from the US, Europe, Asia and, of course, Africa, were given a room in the world’s most influential building.

Oluwo received a personal invitation from the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and was given carte blanche to decorate one room in the White House, the US presidential home. Michelle Obama is a long time supporter of African designers and has regularly worn African classics like wax prints and Swiss Voile to public appearances. Her look is a modern twist on classic African roots and shows that the traditional prints and fabrics can be used to create a sharp modern look.


Award-Winning African Fashion


The Nigerian designer is an established star in the fashion industry and in 2005 his high-waisted Duro dress won the Dress of the Year Award. That year he won the New Designer of the Year Award at the British Fashion Awards without even hosting a catwalk show.

In 2010 he was the Best International Designer at the African Fashion Awards in South Africa and he has consistently been at the forefront of African fashion.

Michelle Obama handed him the Vermeil room, which he decorated with two eight-foot Christmas trees draped with vintage African ribbons and fabrics, and traditional tinsel. The Vermeil room is used as an occasional sitting room, and now it has some of the finest African fabrics draped around it, which also shows another use for some of the most colourful, tactile and intriguing fabrics on the market.

African materials are often unashamedly colourful and eye-catching, with contrasting shades – jacquard weave giving them a reflective edge – and lace featuring heavily. So for those that are looking for a splash of colour with a drape or throw, African fabrics could be the answer.


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