Duro Olowu’s perfect weekend in London

The Lagos-born womenswear designer, known for his head-turning, print‑led pieces, spends his weekend exploring vintage vinyl and rare textiles and ends it with the perfect martini

Duro Olowu at Honest Jon’s Records, Notting Hill
Duro Olowu at Honest Jon’s Records, Notting Hill | Image: Tina Hillier

“I travel so much – to see my wife Thelma [Golden, The Studio Museum curator], who is based in New York, to Lagos to visit my father and to fabric factories in Italy – that when I’m home at the weekend I treasure just sleeping in my own bed and doing mundane things like laundry.

Even so, I head out early on Saturdays. I live in Ladbroke Grove, and while the area has gentrified since I moved here 17 years ago, it is still full of vendors I’ve known for years. I find it wonderfully reassuring that they are still here, selling high-quality things that never disappoint.

My first stop is either the Golborne Deli or Café O’Porto, for a galão – a milky style of coffee that doesn’t make me too hyper – and a toasted sandwich. Then I’ll wander through Golborne Road market, where I might find beautiful silver cutlery and pieces of mismatched Meissen porcelain. I always stop at Les Couilles du Chien – “The Dog’s Bollocks” – which has a fantastic array of midcentury items by designers such as Giò Ponti; and at Rellik, where I’ve found rare vintage Hermès pieces for Thelma. I’ll also visit Portobello Road’s Rainbow News, an old-school newsagent with all the best fashion and design magazines, before ending up at Charles Vernon-Hunt, which has exquisite books about African art and textiles, and rare and vintage catalogues – all beautifully curated. I have a serious book addiction.

By now I’m laden down, but I’ll make my way to Notting Hill Gate, to the farmers’ market. On the rare occasions that I’m home, I like to cook with good ingredients. My next stop is always Honest Jon’s Records, which sells a mix of funk, dub, jazz and reggae. The clientele is as eclectic as the music, and DJs come from all over the world to listen and learn.

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After a lunch at home, I might take the bus to Mayfair for an afternoon at its galleries. David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth are favourites, but I also love the David Hill space near my home, which puts on interesting exhibitions of under-the-radar contemporary photographers. I collect rare African textiles, so another stop is a tiny shop called Adire Textiles in Alfies Antique Market, which has an incredible collection of late-19th-century to late-20th-century west African pieces. 

If Thelma is in town, we have an early supper with friends, either at The Wolseley – where I order the chopped chicken salad – or Ikoyi, a west African fusion restaurant in St James’s. It’s so nice to see this cuisine being done to such a high level.  

My doctor once advised me to wake up, take note of where I am and relax – and on Sundays, I take this to extremes. I wake early, but lie in and watch a film – a Billy Wilder or a Visconti. I also call my dad: he’s 89 and it’s nice to start the day with his voice. Then I might visit Holland Park’s Kyoto Garden – a beautiful, zen place – before going for dim sum at Royal China on Queensway, a Sunday tradition. It’s also my museum day so, fully fed, I’ll go to the V&A – the jewellery collections and the Middle Eastern decorative arts rooms are highlights. By 5pm, I need a drink. Dukes Bar is my favourite for one of bar manager Alessandro Palazzi’s legendary martinis. If Thelma is in New York, I’ll call her while I’m making supper – a healthy take on a Nigerian dish. If she’s here, it’s a takeaway of grilled seabass from Fez Mangal near our home, listening to Steely Dan or Michelle Ngdecello, and by 10pm I’m in bed, ready to take on the week.”

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