Tailor Ozwald Boateng On Songs That Inspire Style

Ozwald Boateng was the first black tailor to have a shop on London's prestigious Savile Row. His tailored suits now cost up to $30,000. For Tell Me More's 'In Your Ear' series, he shares the songs that inspire his dapper look.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now, we'll leave that group of fabulously dressed women and hear from a man who's regularly featured on international best dressed lists, while wearing his own designs. British designer and tailor Ozwald Boateng spoke to us recently about his career in fashion and his passion for all things African. For the occasional feature we call "In Your Ear," we ask guests to tell us about the songs that keep them going. And we couldn't resist the chance to ask Boateng what's on his playlist.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY YA!")

OZWALD BOATENG: I'm Ozwald Boateng and this is what's playing in my ear. Andre 3000 and the track's called "Hey Ya." And I just remember the summer I first heard that song, it was something that I played over and over again. And it just filled my spirit with so much energy and excitement.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY YA!")

BOATENG: I remember meeting Andre at a Vanity Fair party after he had this huge hit with this track and being a fan. And then him knowing me from my clothing and appreciating me for my clothing. So we had this kind of interesting period where we're kind of both looking at each other going, I like what you do. And you're going, I like what you do. It's quite funny.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY YA!")

BOATENG: Another track that I really love is, well, a group - is Massive Attack. I've always been huge fans of them. They started in the U.K. in the music scene around about the same time I started in fashion. And there's a song, the track that I always loved called "Teardrop."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TEARDROP")

BOATENG: It's almost the theme song of my kind of coming of age as a designer. So there's a real connection with them. It's English. It's cool and it's unique.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATER NO GET ENEMY")

BOATENG: So the next track I really enjoy is from an artist called Fela Kuti. And the track that I - that gets me is "Water No Get Enemy."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATER NO GET ENEMY")

BOATENG: I'm a huge fan of Fela Kuti. And I think the main reason for that is, you know, when you hear his music, you hear Africa. And you hear some of the coolest parts of what you find cool and cultural about Africa in his music. And I made a short film recently and I used his music to intro the film. And when you see the film and you hear the music of Fela Kuti, the combination of the two kind of makes you realize and appreciate what Africa has to give to the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATER NO GET ENEMY")

MARTIN: That was designer Ozwald Boateng telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our previous conversation with him, you can go to NPR.org, click on the Programs tab and then TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATER NO GET ENEMY")

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