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British Fashion Designer Darren Johnson: You May Be Slave to Fashion Indulgences

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Peter Bailey

    Fashion designer Darren Johnson wants you to know that you're not free. Hypnotized by the television ads for luxury brands, frustrated by maxed out credit cards spent on an overpriced Gucci purse, you're a slave to your fashion indulgences, he says.

    "At the end of the day, we're always asking the question, 'Are you or are you not a slave or master to fashion?'" Johnson said late Thursday evening.

    It's the provocative premise that inspired Johnson's Oh Master collection, which he debuted at South Beach's posh Atrium boutique last night. Winter Music Conference attendees trickled in to gaze at Johnson's bold and thought-provoking designs. As DJ Tamara Sky appeased the house music-seeking bunch, Johnson further discussed our subconscious shackles.

    "Everyone has to ask themselves, 'Am I a slave to fashion buying a $3,000 bag, when I could have bought it for $200?'" Johnson asked.

    It stems from our need to use hyper fashion to fill the void left by inadequacies and desperation, he argues. Oh Master, a "London brand with a New York street feel" includes T-shirts emblazoned with a calf (depicting the Biblical tale of the Israelites' idolization of the golden calf) and eye-catching cuff links that mirror slave shackles.

    Johnson said his inspiration came from the larger shame of modern slavery, it's many manifestations and those that fought it's roots.

    "The brand was actually inspired by the minds of Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton," said Johnson.

    In fact, he's enlisted famed Black Panther artist Emory Douglas to design some T-shirts for the brand.

    Johnson added: "It'll be interesting, because we're going to tie it into high fashion."