His success comes despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that there has never been anything conventional about Osman’s life and work; when he was initially approached to put on an exhibition at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, celebrating ten years of his designs, Osman wasn’t keen to “do [a] conventional fashion exhibition.” As the project developed, the designer composed installations exploring his personal stories of growing up in Birmingham and universal themes of migration for his exhibition ‘Being Somewhere Else’. Being physically, I ask, or simply in your imagination? “That’s the whole question,” Osman tells me. “If you move somewhere else, how do you physically inhabit that space?”
Space, in the form of Yousefzada’s childhood home in Birmingham’s Balsall Heath, became the starting point for his creative process in assembling the exhibition. It was from that house that his Afghani mother ran a dressmaking business and where Osman learnt to cut patterns, to source trims, fabrics and haberdasheries. The culture of the 80s, traditional Muslim values and female domestic space all had to be navigated under that roof. Now that Osman has opened his own townhouse in London’s Percy Street, it’s perhaps inevitable that the boutique has become not just a home to his fashion collections but a cultural space to host readings, talks and events – it also serves as an art gallery and bookshop.