Photo by Colleen Durkin
Brand names are meaningless to this Nigerian-born architect-turned-cultural impresario, who went from designing hit projects (at Eva Maddox Associates and SOM) to hit restaurants (including gone-but-not-forgotten Okno) to hit emporiums, from now-defunct Softcore and E-Octopussy to River North’s very much alive Orange Skin and Minotti contemporary furniture showrooms. His inclusion in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 2000 show on nine groundbreaking architects, along with Jeanne Gang and Helmut Jahn, solidified his status as a visionary. Today, the 51-year-old shares homes in Nigeria, Latvia and Chicago’s Humboldt Park with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. What hasn’t changed is his indie sartorial style, which is all about individualism and the mix.
Mix it up: “I pair things from my father, a chief justice who had exquisitely crafted tribal garb and bespoke Savile Row suits, with special pieces I’ve accumulated over the years.”
Fave brands: Versace, Prada, Gucci, Alexander McQueen and sneakers—especially Adidas.
Passion pieces: A rare Igbo hat from his father and pants made in the 1950s from Akwete cloth, anything vintage Alexander McQueen, and a rare pair of 2002 BAPE sneakers from Tokyo.
For dress: “I don’t dress up to go out; I go as I am. Whatever I wear is enduring, comfortable and can go anywhere.”
What’s next: “A nod to my ethnic Igbo roots with a venture that will spotlight design and folklore with African origins or antecedents, ranging from fashion and art to sacred objects.”