Film Review: A Man's Story

Ozwald Boateng may be the only designer who is more compellingly attractive than any of his models, and this less-than-deep documentary fully captures his undeniable charisma.

In most instances save one, in nature, it is usually the male of the species who flaunts flamboyant plumage and colors. The exception, of course, is with human beings, where the female has the much wider range of sartorial choices and hues with which to display herself. Ghanian-born British designer Ozwald Boateng addresses this conundrum directly in his work, featuring immaculately cut tailoring for men which dazzles with its rainbow palette and use of surprising fabrics like shantung and taffeta. A real boundary breaker, at the age of 28 he became the youngest tailor to open a shop on London’s legendary center of bespoke, Savile Row.

Varon Bonicos trailed Boateng for a dozen years to make A Man’s Story, which captures the 6’4” designer, himself the best model for his creations with his chiseled, ebony looks, in a variety of intimate as well as glitteringly public situations. In the dues-paying department, we see him at his first, highly fraught presentation in Paris in 1994, frustratingly dealing with unpaid bills, his car being towed, a power outage during his show and the theft of his entire collection from his studio. But we also see him swanning on the runway, hanging with celebrities which include no less than Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth, who gave him the Order of the British Empire. A number of stars—Will Smith, Laurence Fishburne, Richard Branson, Paul Bettany—weigh in with their sincere admiration of his work.

It’s a diverting immersion into the world of a subject who is, thankfully, highly charismatic and personally forthcoming, with a necessarily very healthy ego. We hear about this resolutely heterosexual man’s two painful divorces, the second of which was instigated when he discovered his wife’s affair through a text message. Despite every setback, Boateng’s life is a triumph of personality and talent over myriad adversity. The talent is unquestionable when one witnesses his creations on the catwalk, which may have you drooling to possess them. I just wish Bonicos had delved deeper into his creative process: Apart from stating that Giorgio Armani was his main inspiration, we learn very little about it.