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Hair & Make-Up: Das Boat! The House of Boateng

After one episode of the House of Boateng, we're hemmed in for the season.

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by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: July, 2006
Ozwald Boateng been hailed the US as Britain's Young King of Style.

It's summer even on TV of course, so aside from being mesmerized on an exceedingly rare occasion by the boot of David Beckham, Wayne Rooney or Thierry Henry, there's pretty much nothing on TV and therefore nothing to hope for. I am totally jaded by all I see before me, on TV.

So against this mostly desolate and disconsolate backdrop, along comes Ozwald Boateng's reality show for the Sundance Channel, House of Boateng.

Ozwald Boateng is the British tailor extroardinaire. He's been hailed in the US as Britain's Young King of Style. A luxury menswear designer. His penchant for color and eye for detail has taken him from a girlfriends' sewing machine, to Saville Row (adjacent) and a Creative Directorship at Givenchy, all via Portobello road. He is the tailor of choice for the choicest of stars. Google 'Boateng+Your Favorite Stars Name' - it's a fun game. The 'House, on Sundance, follows Boateng as he plans a new flagship store in Los Angeles, or maybe Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Miami. "All the hot spots." He says. Whatever. It's gonna be a new one man British invasion.

So far, so-so, you might say. Except Boateng is a sensationally charismatic man, with a splendidly classic light bulb shaped head, and the show itself is mercifully unvarnished. Well, compared to these things generally.

There are moments of pondering and pathos and repeating of the mantra. Here, sure enough, is a man at work, the dedicated artisan, one who knows his job as a tailor and has scaled the heights of his profession, lived his dreams. He shares with us the moments when the plethora of good advice from friends, associates and assorted potential business partners can appear to cloud the view of a man with unequivocal vision. We're rarely offered such real vulnerability and ambivalence on TV.

There's true intrigue here, and more insight into the world of business in 30 minutes than in an entire series of The Apprentice.

"If I stump up a quarter of a million..." (a key fee for a shop in LA) "I don't want to be stumping up to the landlord too." He tells two real estate dealers as they stand outside a desirable address. A heroic turn of phrase to the ears of all who are burnt out on LA business speak. A language no one should have to understand.

There's the trip back to Paris for his third Givenchy catwalk show. It was of critical importance and the conclusions appear a little undrawn. Did it go well or badly or simply okay. I am not sure and I like that.

It's when you consider Boateng's reputation, sure he may have become a pop culture icon, it's his occupational hazard. But with the finesse his reputation flourishes upon, the rigorous detail of his work, a pop tv show such as House of Boateng can appear an incongruity, a folly of sorts. 

His sterling reputation and his revolutionary senses aren't stilled, but an encounter with TV's Ryan Seacrest then seems all the more lamentable and reductive for both men. A first surely, for the shameless Seacrest. The gist, to whit, Seacrest: "I wanna dress like Jude Law in Alfie." Boateng had designed Jude the gigolo suits for the movie, Alfie. "I can do you something in gray..." explains the man most famous for his colors. Seacrest seems underwhelmed, or maybe doesn't know what he wants until someone tells him, but gets the upper hand finally when Ozwald is seen exiting Seacrest's suite - letting us know that even on Ozwald's show, American stars can demand the interloper come to them.

Or perhaps it just underlines Boateng's pressing need for his own Melrose area store.

All in all, House of Boateng is quite a lovely little joy. We like his spontaneous dancing and are pretty sure he could hold his own on Project Runway. He can after all, stitch.

We're hemmed in for the season.

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