Saturday, 20 October 2012

Osei Duro: Honourable Magic

If you knew 10 years from now that you were finally going to meet the love of your life, what on earth would you do between now and then? I think I’d probably waste away those precious days just waiting for that moment to hurry along. And what if you knew that tomorrow would be your last day here? I think that would ruin the fun of tonight. Don’t you? What I mean is that while we all sometimes wish we could predict the future, and be calmed by just a shred of certainty and reassurance that our lives are going to play out like we hope they will, it’s actually strangely comforting muddling along here in the unknown. It somehow takes all the pressure away; frees us, and dares us to dive in head first and create whatever story we’ve always dreamed of; because each of us has nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Plain and simple - life is a mystery... and I think that’s one of the greatest gifts that each of us recieves. 

Maryanne Mathias and Molly Keogh are two ladies who know better than most of us that you never know where you’re going to end up or what life has in store for you right around the next corner. But that’s what makes it such an epic adventure, right? These talented designers first met during high school, but it wasn’t until Maryanne flew to Ghana that she found herself wanting to stay and design and create a clothing collection. It was then that she envisioned something far bigger and better, but unable to execute her ambitious vision as a one-woman band, she decided to reach out to an old friend – Molly. ‘I asked Molly to join me as a partner when we were at our 10-year high school reunion,’ Maryanne says.

What was initially meant to be a one-off trip, ended up becoming the socially responsible and sustainable fashion label – Osei-Duro. The two ladies work in partnership with the Dzidefo Women’s Cooperative in Ghana, who are local artisans, and together produce collections that are very unique and flattering, with an innovative use of fabrics and prints that I have yet to see anywhere else. It’s hard to pinpoint the style... it’s a mix of cultures (notably Accra – the capital of Ghana – and North America, the two places where the pair split their time between), and integrates ethnic elements with a strong contemporary urban feel.

In stark contrast to what the high street continues to half-heartedly churn out for us on a weekly basis - each finished piece from an Osei-Duro collection represents many hours of creative collaboration between the dynamic design duo and their talented crafters. ‘There is a lot of back and forth as we develop the prints,’ says Molly. ‘We might request an experimental technique that is new to the dyers, or they might suggest a traditional method they think suits a need. We send samples and sketches back and forth with the dyers and the sewers and the cobblers until everyone is satisfied with the results.’

The name, Osei-Duro, translates to "honourable magic" in Akan. I think that sums up the spirit of the label nicely. It’s built upon a friendship, and is supported by a local community working together to collectively produce something special. It’s about people from different parts of the world crossing paths, colliding with one another, something that wouldn’t have otherwise happened if it wasn’t for these incredible ladies. It’s strange when you think of it like that... when you dare to think about how none of it might have existed if Maryanne hadn’t pursued her dream... It’s like everything that happens in our lives on a daily basis, we all make choices to go one way or the other, and are sometimes left wondering whether we made the right decision in that moment. 

I think Maryanne and Molly made a beautiful choice.

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