A documentary that follows 12 years in the life of a clothes designer, sounds like it might be overlong and tedious – but ‘A Man’s Story’ – the doc on Black British tailor/fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, is never that.
Its shows Boateng rising from his humble Ghanian immigrant roots, to become the youngest and first Black tailor on London’s prestigious Saville Row, to go onto the even higher heights of patronage from Hollywood movie stars and recognition from the Queen (he was awarded an OBE in 2007). And that is not even the highest of the heights he has reached. Not only is Boateng at the top of the fashion trade, he has transended that industry to become something of an international icon.
Not only has he done tailoring for the likes of Will Smith, Lawrence Fishbourne, and Jamie Foxx, in 2007 he was commissioned by the President of the Republic of Ghana, to design and orchestrate a show at the 9th Annual African Union summit that was attended by Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe, and the now deposed leader of Libya Colonel Gadaffi. The launch of his project to promote closer links between African-Americans and the African continent was attended by veteran civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and legendary Jazz musician Herbie Hancock. This guy has got juice worldwide. Even former Secreatry General of the United Nations (and fellow Ghanian) Kofi Annan returns his calls. That’s how large he is!
But this film is not just a P.R. exercise – it shows Boateng’s ups as well as downs. It reveals the breakdown of his marriage, and struggle to maintain a relationship with his children, and it shows that despite his worldwide acclaim, even his life is not without failures and disappointments. But never the less its inspiring to see a British Black man rising to the very top of his field, through sheer hard work and talent. And we all need a little inspiration right now.