Posted: May 18th, 2010
My inspiration for ‘Zula’ came from the character Zula which Grace Jones played with fierce aplomb in the cult 80’s fantasy adventure film ‘Conan the Destroyer’. In this film Grace Jones portrayed the character of an African warrior with feminist-like values who showed great physical strength, boldness and unconventional African beauty. So I wanted to create a fantasy story of my own through a fashion editorial where I portrayed an African female warrior in the future. It was my aim to use the clothes, accessories, hair, makeup, photography and model to bring my story to life. As ‘Zula’ was ‘my baby’, I wanted her character to show trademarks of myself which is why there is a strong and eccentric use of clashing colours, textures and prints. Speaking of the latter, I have been collecting Ankara prints for years and this editorial gave me the chance to use and customise them for the story. It was also very important to me that I used international designers so that the story would have a creative mix of African and Western influences, as this is essentially who I am- a Nigerian with a lot of Western influence.
‘Zula’ would never have come to life without the strong team behind it and when choosing the photographer, hair, make-up artist and model- I made sure that I looked through their portfolios to see if they had ‘artistic’ like qualities in their work. If someone asked me, ‘how do you know when a fashion image can be deemed as art’, my automatic response would be, ‘I know it when I see it’. However at a push, I would reply, ‘For me, a fashion image reaches art-like status when the image takes me on a journey that’s beyond a ‘fashionable experience’ because it does not compel me to ask obvious questions like- what designer is s/he wearing, are the clothes in ‘vogue’? etc- instead I am captivated and mesmerized about the entirety of the image and find myself flicking constantly back to the page in question trying to figure out how the shot was taken, the inspiration behind it, what the model was thinking at that moment in time, the reasoning behind the choice of location, pose etc.
Fortunately for ‘Zula’ and I, each member of my team had that natural artistic talent which in turn enabled the ‘Zula’ story to have fashion as well as art-like qualities.
Photographer- Marcelo Benfield- www.marcelobenfield.com
Creative Director and Stylist- Biki John- www.bikijohn.com
Hair Stylist- Kuni Kohzaki using Bumble and Bumble
Makeup artist and Grooming- Ken Nakano using Estee Lauder
Model- Sosheba Griffiths @ Premier Model Management