Be­come the in-crowd

CityPress - - Trending - Nige­rian menswear de­signer Walé Oyéjidé has cre­ated a stun­ning new look­book that chal­lenges Euro­pean per­cep­tions of African mi­grants, writes

The new look­book by mu­si­cian and lawyer-turned-ac­claimed menswear de­signer Walé Oyéjidé, which was shot in Florence for his la­bel Ikiré Jones, has caused a stir. He told Okayafrica web­site: “Italy is not as in­te­grated as the US. Peo­ple are not used to see­ing a group of African guys in the city wear­ing suits.”

More of­ten, he says, African men are seen as ped­dlers of bags and trin­kets on street cor­ners. But with his range, peo­ple wanted to know “who the celebri­ties were in their fly clothes”.

That re­ac­tion is pre­cisely why he was shoot­ing the look­book in the first place. The new 2016 Au­tumn/Win­ter Col­lec­tion, called Af­ter Mi­gra­tion by Ikiré Jones, at­tempts to chal­lenge and dis­rupt per­cep­tions of African mi­grants who have made Europe home.

Oyéjidé found the am­a­teur mod­els through a lo­cal set­tle­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion that houses asy­lum seek­ers. Each of the men in this edi­to­rial had come to Italy flee­ing op­pres­sion in his home coun­try. With­out delv­ing into each model’s in­di­vid­ual story, Oyéjidé wants to make a greater point about the lives of mi­grants, re­fram­ing them not as “in­vaders”, but as real peo­ple.

The edi­to­rial also at­tempts to ad­dress the is­sue of a lack of black mod­els in high fash­ion, as well as the lack of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for mi­grants.

The re­sult is a beau­ti­ful, visu­ally strik­ing edi­to­rial that show­cases the Ikiré Jones col­lec­tion well, while also cap­tur­ing the soft­ness and vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the men he chose to be mod­els.

The col­lec­tion com­bines the lines of clas­sic menswear with bold Ankara prints and unique de­tails, a look that man­ages to both fit in and stand out. The grainy, al­most dirty­look­ing fil­ter of the im­ages makes the gor­geous jack­ets and out­fits pop.

“I thought it was im­por­tant, for many rea­sons, to put them in front of the cam­era, not as props, but to con­vey their unique per­spec­tives,” says Oyéjidé of his mod­els.

He says they were paid prop­erly and he hopes they will be able to break into fash­ion.

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Real peo­ple, real mod­els

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