The FENDI Power ft. Alton Mason & Mia Kong

In an alternate twist to their rooftop performance, FENDI recently teamed up with American top model Alton Mason and Chinese creative talent Mia Kong for an edition entitled “The Fendi Power” in tribute to their iconic Peekaboo bag. Shot on the colourful rooftop of Miami’s Museum Garage, the campaign sees Mason letting loose and showing off his famous dance skills wearing flexible pieces from the brand’s leisurewear that are complemented perfectly by the subtle yet bold colour palette of the black and yellow FENDI Peekaboo. He’s soon joined by Mia Kong who shows off her moves while also sporting pieces from the leisurewear line and they’re shot grooving out in celebration of the FENDI peekaboo. For more information on the iconic accessory visit FENDI.COM.

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Browns Fashion in collaboration with Homecoming

In 2018, Metallic Inc. launched Homecoming, a festival in Lagos, Nigeria combining panel talks, parties, workshops and brand activations to spotlight the influence of African music, art, sport and fashion culture around the world, bringing together up-and-coming African talent and established industry names in a celebration of creativity across the diaspora.

In the wake of COVID19, Browns Fashion have joined forces with Homecoming to present an exclusive experience of Homecoming 2020. Titled “Ni Agbaye”, meaning “in the world”, Homecoming and Browns have created what can be described as an unfolding e-zine universe, focussing on the influence that Afro culture has on global pop culture, exploring cultural exchange through the work of some of the diaspora’s most pioneering creative minds. Combining fashion editorials, online panel talks, interviews, custom artwork and in-depth think pieces from notable African publications.

Featured writing commissions will explore the exportation of African arts, culture and the impact of music by The Native, The Republic explores the disruption of narrative by African designers to carve spaces for themselves, Nigerian Gothic has created a series of collages to create new visuals with a modern guise, and the Motherlan create a photo story capturing their extended community.

Aiming to celebrate the cultural exchange of Africa with the world, there will be a physical presence through Yinka Ilori’s installation and listening takeovers in the Immersive Room by Fela Kuti and Obongjayar at the Browns East store in London, and also as ever an almighty focus on the global digital stage, with playlists from the likes of Mowalola and a focus on brand storytelling and cultural exchange from the new Nigerian brands supported online. Explore further here.

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FENDI Peekaboo Campaign ft. Zoey Deutch

This week FENDI officially launched their first ever worldwide video and image campaign for its renown Peekaboo bag with actress and producer Zoey Deutch as lead. 

Featuring a video story that speaks to Zoey during moments when she shows up her most authentic self, the journey begins with dancing decked in FENDI with the Peekaboo bag in hand , then continues with her on her way to the studio , greeting paparazzi and making her way inside.  It captures the short moments before a seasoned actress takes the spotlight as she gets mentally prepared to be shot with the FENDI Peekaboo bag in the studio.

The campaign features the new Peekaboo which was presented for the FENDI Fall/Winter 20-21 collection last February, which sees updates like an accordion frame shape that opens in a “deep smile” , inside pockets etc. The new FENDI Peekaboo bag. Is currently in stores, visit FENDI.com for more info. 

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ANIME SALVE by Jess Kohl – A Detailed Visual Account of Neapolitan Queer Culture

British photographer and director Jess Kohl is scheduled to inaugurate her first Italian solo exhibition next month under the title Anime Salve. Set to debut in Napoli, Italy the presentation is a visual documentary recollected during the last two years, intimately exploring themes of gender non-conformity in a city like Scampia where spirituality, gender and sexuality have long co-existed.

Initially her body of work began with a magnification of the concept of the Italian slang ‘femminielli’ which is a word used to describe effeminate men — often used in modern Neapolitan culture. The exhibition then takes its viewers on a journey throughout the lives of five people, most living in Scampia, as they’re framed in intimate portraits and candid shots. A woman named Alessia is documented living with her elderly mother Amalia and Kohl captures current moments of an ever-changing narrative that moves with the city that surrounds them. 

Each subject was documented over a period of years,  which gives an accurate scope of their personal evolution and an authentic representation of marginalised communities throughout change. Named after the famous album of Italian songwriter Fabrizio De André, the exhibition (which translates to “solitary spirits”), also includes monochromatic images documenting the architectural and developments of the Scampian landscape, an exploration of the intersection between queerness and Catholicism, and a visual map between traditions of the femminielli and modern day trans lives. It then closes with a thought-provoking ending composed of 8 portraits that bridges a sentimental connection between the lives of trans women in Napoli and trans women in Koovagam, India through cultural similarities and liberal attitudes towards gender.

Also accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue by ShowDesk, giving a more detailed scope on the documentary which includes an essay by Paolo Valerio, honorary professor of clinical  psychology at the Federico II Naples University. Anime Salve will officially open its doors on September 11th 2020 at the Palazzo delle Arti Napoli. 

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PRADA revamps its Harrods Boutique with the launch of an exclusive new accessory

Last weekend Prada officially announced the renovation  of their ground floor boutique at the Harrods department store in London with a transformation that aligns more with their Milanese heritage. The revamped space features a black and white chequered floor, in reference to the historic Prada store in Milan, as well as 3D covering with graphics that speak to the historic prints of the house, which are paired their signature shade of boutique green.

To mark this special occasion , the house also scheduled the launch of an exclusive Prada spazzolato leather handbag , which was first seen in their SS21 digital presentation not too long ago. Carefully crafted in spazzolato leather , the accessory comes in two styles and will be sold in black , white , orchid and aqua. 

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Alexander McQueen launches Autumn/Winter 2020 Campaign

If it’s one thing one can always look forward to it is the undeniable beauty behind an Alexander McQueen campaign. This season the brand tapped photographer Jamie Hawkesworth as the creative behind their Autumn Winter 2020 campaign. The campaign features models Anok Yai , Sora Choi & Jil Kortleve as they’re pictured with the striking romantic silhouettes of the AW 2020 collection against a serene English countryside background. Also front and centre is the house’s The Tall Story bag, created in line with the colour scheme of the runway. With a structor made up of sculptural lines & modern metallic handles, the elegant tote bag embodies the flexibility of being carried in hand or on the shoulder with its leather straps. The Tall Story is available in a variety of versions including black oversized quilting, black stamped croc or handmade patchwork.  View the full campaign below.

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PRADA Re-Nylon takes over Selfridges Corner Shop

Earlier this week, Selfridges marked the launch of their new global initiative Project Earth in collaboration with Prada as they inaugurated the new Prada Re-Nylon collection. Presented in the Selfridges Corner Shop in London, the collection is Prada’s line of sustainable products originally launched in 2019, which were all made from unique regenerated nylon obtained through a recycling and purification process of plastic waste from oceans, fishing nets & textile fibre waste. In their commitment to protect the environment, the Prada Group has created a line up of projects with objectives of saving energy and promoting practices of sustainability within the luxury sector.

This latest collaboration with Selfridges is solid proof of such, as they offer up a stylish selection of pieces including boots, backpacks, jumpers, skirts, buckets hats and others. The Corner Shop is an immersive experience of this sustainable Prada world with screening of short films produced in collaboration with National Geographic displayed on scenographic multiscreen large scale arches and the surfaces covered in video wallpaper showcasing the macro animations of natural elements as well as the PRADA Re-Nylon industrial process.

“The Prada Re-Nylon project brings circularity to life by teaming creativity with sustainable product innovation in the Selfridges Corner Shop. Prada brings vision to all elements of its business – sustainability is no exception – I am delighted that through this unique concept developed for our sustainability initiative Project Earth, we are able to share that vision with our customers,” explained Selfridges Executive Buying & Merchandising Director Sebstian Manes. The Prada Re-Nylon experience is currently at Selfridges Corner Shop in London.  

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Twin Talks: Osaze Akil – A refreshing mix of modern & traditional black culture

Traditional renaissance art is a genre that was created with a central focus on European history, religion and identity which was mainly if not entirely centred around whiteness. However upon our recent discovery of the Atlanta based visual artist Osaze Akil’s work, we found ourselves moved by his method of re-framing some of these traditionally white narratives to include black identities, while also offering contemporary takes on themes of black divinity with influences from African cultures spirituality and fashion. His work speaks volumes in such a way where it uses different elements and smaller details that ultimately come together to tell stories that speak proudly to both modern & traditional black heritage and culture. Which is why Twin chose to sit down with the artist himself to gain a more accurate idea of the process, inspirations and aspirations behind his work. 

Tell me about your journey, how did you first start painting ? 

I’ve been painting for most of my life. As a child, my mother painted leisurely so I think I picked that up from her. I started painting for myself when I was about six or seven, but I was drawing and sketching well before that. I had all of these ideas and ways that I saw and interpreted the world, and putting them on canvas always felt like a sweet release. If I didn’t have the language [verbally], I had the language to express myself through the art I created.

Security Rising by Osaze Akil

What or who would you say is your biggest influence/s?

I have major influences that  all contribute to my art in different ways. The first would be Toni Morrison. She’s one of my favorite authors and I’ve always been drawn to the mysticism that she alludes to in her work. The idea that black people have a sort of magic, that isn’t self contained, but shared and experienced communally was always something that intrigued me. With my paintings, I definitely want them to feel magical- that there’s an inherent magic that isn’t forced, but still felt by anyone looking at the piece. Another big influence of mine is Axel Vervoordt.

He is an interior designer and art collector, and often references the energy of a space or of an object being transformative. For me, I think of “spaces” more metaphorically. I think about the spaces that black people have been provided, and have been made by us for ourselves, and how they hold the weight that they do because of the energy that we’ve brought into them. Most of the subjects in my paintings are indoors, or enclosed in some sense, which reinforces my idea of us bringing our magic and our energy into the confines of our reality and making it work for us. We’re often put in boxes, and yet we make them beautiful, exciting, and influential. 

Revolutionized Luxury by Osaze Akil

A lot of your work in many ways feel quite sacred, with some even holding biblical titles , what part does religion or spirituality play in your process ? 

I grew up in church. Although I don’t consider myself to be a fundamentalist, I’ve always felt that I am guided, protected, and supported by something much larger than myself. My belief in God is a core part of my identity, if not the most important. I feel that God has given me a gift, which is my talent, and I honor that by referencing God’s work through me in my pieces. Painting has become not only a meditative practice for me but a form of worship. I also often reflect on the importance that spirituality has held in my culture, as an African American. Since slavery, our connection to God and the way that we worship has been the foundation for a lot of ways that we operate today, intraculturally and with the world in general.  

Tignon Law by Osaze Akil

As a contemporary artist, what role would you like your work to play in modern day society ?

I feel that I’m rewriting history, and telling a new story. When walking through art museums as a child, I never saw depictions of black people being exalted, significant, worthy of comfort, or abundance. I feel that had I seen more of that growing up, I wouldn’t have lived thinking that so many positive things that we can get from life could only be afforded to me if I wasn’t who I was. I want those younger than me to have that representation, and to know that even though our past in this country started in bondage, our future can be free.

Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace by Osaze Akil

What’s the part of your process that you find most exciting? 

I love when I first get an idea, and I do the pre-sketch. I sketch out my paintings on paper about 4-5 times before I actually put anything on canvas. Going through that process, being introspective, and understanding what I want to say through it is very gratifying. Also, the end when it’s completed is also a very exciting feeling.

Do you have a favourite piece of yours? 

I don’t think I’ve yet made my favorite piece. If I had to choose, it would be my “Madonna and Child” piece. We haven’t seen many depictions of Christ or the Virgin Mary as anything other than white. So, challenging that felt important to me. 

Peaceful Isolation by Osaze Akil

How was your lockdown experience? Did you find yourself more or less inspired?

I am definitely more inspired in lockdown than before. Before, there were so many distractions and interactions that I had on a daily basis that took my mind away from creating. Now, I’m forced to sit with myself, learn new things, and focus on things in different ways which automatically sparks inspiration.

Where can one purchase your work ? 

My work can be purchased on my website! osazeakil.com

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Peter Lindbergh : Untold Stories at Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg

Earlier this year Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg inaugurated their run of the ongoing exhibition Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories. The exhibit features unseen work of the iconic German fashion photographer and is the first ever survey exhibition curated by Peter Lindbergh himself prior to his passing in September 2019. It celebrates the legacy of his work with a collection of 140 photographs accumulated over two years which offer an insight into his extensive oeuvre, spanning from the 1980’s the present day.

The first time I saw my photographs on the walls of the exhibition mock-up, I was startled, but in a positive way. It was overwhelming to be thus confronted with who I am,” Lindbergh explained during an interview in 2019. His famous black and white work is known for transcending their own context and giving an alternate spin on fashion photography by finding ways to not have his images centred around the fashion. 

© Peter LindberghCourtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris

“The exhibition allowed me to reconsider my images in a non fashion context. The presentation aims to open the photographs to different interpretations and perspectives. However, I don’t try to claim that my pictures aren’t fashion photographs, that wouldn’t be true either. I insist on the definition “fashion photography because for me that terms doesn’t mean that one has to depict fashion — photography is much bigger than fashion, it is a part of contemporary culture, ” he commented. 

The showcase is divided into three chapters, two of which are large scale installations: opening with Manifest, which offers an insightful thought provoking immersive introduction to the late photographer’s perspective of fashion photography; while the central section features never before experimental works of the photographers shown in pairs or groups; and it then closes with a film installation entitled Testament (2014) which is an unveiling of a hither unknown side of the character of the iconic image maker featuring some unexpected and emotionally moving subjects. The exhibition is currently on at the  Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg until the the 1st of November and is also accompanied by a 320 page hardcover catalogue with 150 images and exclusive interviews with the photographer. For more information visit MKG.

© Peter LindberghCourtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris

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The Auction Collective takes residency at Browns East

Cover Image: Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark, Untitled (737935), 2019/2020

This week The Auction Collective officially launched a residency at Browns East London in celebration of the arts in efforts to showcase some of the finest emerging global talent with themes ranging from the art of seduction , icons and the future.  The selection of artists include carefully curated exciting up and coming names in contemporary including Rayvenn D’Clark, Realf Heygate, Claudia Legge, James Rogers, Andrew Hardy among others whose work in the exhibit will all be available for purchase. 

We have long been admirers of Browns. Their 50 year history of curating top quality collections of the latest designers is an inspiration to us and our drive to give a voice to the rising stars of the contemporary art scene,” explained Tom Best, Founder of The Auction Collective. The exhibit is currently on show at Browns East London and will run until December this year. 

Claudia Legge, Havana Street, 2016 Archival pigment print on German Etching paper 40 x 60 cm

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MATCHESFASHION launches The Innovators Programme in support of young designers

In efforts to support young designers through what has been a substantially difficult year, MATCHESFASHION recently announced the upcoming launch of The Innovators Programme. Scheduled to launch in September the project was created with the objective of championing young talent , and will include 12 menswear & womenswear designers from across the world to participate in mentorship projects, as well as partnerships with preferential business terms and marketing. 

I am delighted that we have formalised our support for emerging talent, developing The Innovators into a programme that actually helps futureproof their businesses in what has been a tough year for the creative industry. I have work with many of these designer for a long time and I am so happy that we are committing to their visionary collections in a practical , material way,” explained MATCHESFASHION Buying Director Natalie Kingham

The names included in the program are Art School, Ahluwalia, Chopova Lowena, Stefan Cooke, Germanier, Halpern, Harris Reed, Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, Thebe Magugu,  Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Bianca Saunders & Wales Bonner, who all worked closely with the MATCHESFASHION team during the pandemic after the need for practical support and ongoing commitment was expressed. 

“Emerging talent has always been at the heart of our business but often these businesses exist outside of traditional production cycles and need additional help and support to grow. This programme solidifies what we have always done, recognising talent and promoting their inspiring collections. We’ve worked closely with many of these designers already and I’m excited to continue our journey together,” commented MATCHESFASHION Head of Menswear Damien Paul .  The Innovators Programme will officially take shape in September with original content and amplification of each talent that will continue throughout the year.

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Dior launches summer pop-up with Harrods

On the occasion of the launch of their FW20-21 collection, Dior recently announced their partnership with Harrods in the opening of a new pop-up store in London. The pop-up which will be hosted by the boutique in the city’s centre from August 1st to 30th is a dedication to some of new additions to the collection. The grand velvet space will feature new versions of bags such as Dior’s signature bags in the same fabric, including the Saddle, Lady D-Lite and Dior Book Tote with the distinctive Dior Oblique motifs. The bags aptly accompany the ready to wear looks from collection that also feature signature Dior codes, from exclusive bob hats, scarves and other pieces that reflect on the house’s excellence of savour faire. A selection of pieces like the Diorcamp, Lady D-Lite among other may also be personalized using the ABCDior service. The Dior x Harrods Pop Up is currently active and will run until the end of the month. 

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Postcards From The Past by Elena Cremona

This past week, Elena Cremona , photographer, founder and creative director of The Earth Issue launched a series of black & white images entitled Postcards from the Past. The series, which will be offered in 20 black and white plates is a powerful series of images that document the landscape of Joshua Tree, California. 

“In relativity to human experience, landscapes are static things – their changes are slow, their ecosystems cyclical, and any given  day is likely to unfold within them much the same as the one prior; it is us that moves through landscapes, shapes and colours them with our emotions, and remembers them ‘before, ’ Cremona explained. 

In several ways the twenty black and white images captured showcase the creeping splits of the surfaces and rocks , and the Joshua trees that are most often seen alone. Her journey through the Mojave Desert was paralleled with the ending of her relationship and the images speak of that story. 

The images are currently available for Pre-Order, find out more at Guest Editions.

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Celine Homme SS21 – The Dancing Kid

Celine Homme SS21 , entitled “The Dancing Kid,” was centred around the idea of teen spirit as creative director Hedi Slimane drew inspiration from the work he did with Tik Tok star Non Eubanks as one of the faces of his SS20 campaign. This year’s collection, prepared in parallel with the winter collection centred around ideas of youth culture as a sartorial documentary about the e-boys, skate culture and an attempt in capturing the essence of an entire generation that turned boredom and confinement into creativity and innovation.

For the collection, Slimane worked with six artists including Tyson Reeder, Jesse Harris, Gregory Edwards, Ryan Ford, Amy Sillman & Turpentine who all contributed in different ways to shape the final result. Each piece told a different story, which ranged from luminous embroidered leather jackets, to lacerated jeans alla Slimane, as well as new Celine Z trainers that will be available for purchase later this year. View the full “The Dancing Kid” show below.

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Dior Cruise 2021 – An ode to Puglia

Just last week Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri presented her Cruise 2021 collection with a scenic backdrop of Lecce, Italy. The show was a celebration of the magical beauty of arts and crafts, which was set to the melodic rhythms of a cathartic dance by the La Notte della Taranta Foundation, choreographed by Sharon Eyal to the music of Paolo Buonvino

. Throughout the collection, even the silhouettes pay tribute to the Pugliese region with drawings that celebrate the beauty of nature in the region. They also all bear the motto of the workshops at the Costantine Foundation. Maria Grazia Chiuri collaborated with artist Pietro Ruffo, who paid homage to Chrisitian Dior’s iconic Dior dress from 1949, imagined a field with a constellation of wheat sheaves, while narratives of of untamed nature were transposed onto shirts and shorts. Over three months the duo produced over 250 illustrations with inspiration from the book De Florum Cultura , which was published in 1638 by Giovanni Battista Ferrari. 

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FENDI’S #MeAndMyPeekaboo ft. Chloe x Halle

Fendi’s latest episode in their #MeAndMyPeekaboo series features LA based pop culture superstar duo Chloe x Halle. In creation of the campaign, the duo was given complete creative control to conceive the project with the creative team of their choice. 

Shot at their home in LA, the video was created with the Art Direction of Andrew Makadsi, the vision of videographer Derek and photographer Julian Dakdouk, who manage to capture the unbreakable bond between the sisters. 

For the video, they commence with a stylish breakfast accessorised with the FENDI Peekaboo bags, after which we’re treated to shots of the duos divine natural beauty as they take a dive in the pool and enjoy a day by the pool. Following this they preparing for a performance of their lates with some major hair and makeup glam. 

Throughout the video, the wardrobe features pieces of FENDI’s Pre-Fall 2020 collection styled by Zerina Akers , complemented with some of the brand’s latest Peekaboo bags including and edition with an accordion-frame shape & inside pockets offered in smooth leather or precious skins. 

The  #MeAndMyPeekaboo series began last year featuring 10 iconic women across the world which included names like Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner and North West. Each episode includes versions of the Peekaboo bags which have been seen on the latest runways.  To shop the Peekaboo visit Fendi.

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A chat with Ming Smith – the photographer whose work is soft, intimate & bathed in community through its documentation of the black American experience.

Cover image: America Seen Through Stars and Stripes, New York City, NewYork Painted, 1976, by Ming Smith

Ming Smith, not necessarily a name widely known in photography, was the first Black woman to have her photographic work accepted into the Museum of Modern Art, in 1975.

The only female member of the Kamoinge Collective, and a dedicated image maker to capturing the humanity for the Black Experience, Ming Smith’s imagery and life trajectory is due a mighty relook. Currently staging an online exhibition of a selection of Smith’s work, from her image of Grace Jones as a Ballerina, to the playwright August Wilson, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery has moved the exhibition online through Vortic

We caught up with the photographer from her apartment in New York. 

How did you first get into photography?

I borrowed my mother’s camera on my first day of school in kindergarten and I took photographs of some of my school mates. The class was predominantly white, and we were about 10% of the class. I had a lot of friends and classmates that I took photographs of. 

Did you feel looking back that there was a central focus for your photographs?

It was just a natural thing. My father was a photographer. He was a hobbyist but he was really artistic: he drew, painted, did films and things like that. However he worked 12 hours a day as a pharmacist, so he didn’t do photography a lot, however I think it then became for me a natural thing to do. 

You trained to be a doctor initially, and then you decided to focus on a career in photography. 

My grandfather would always say that he wanted me to be a doctor. I liked that because he taught bible school, and my grandmother was helping all the neighbours, so I felt that being a doctor was a way of helping people. I know that might sound pretty naive but that was what I wanted to do. I did volunteer work at the children’s hospital when I was young. I saw a lot of pain around me, so I wanted to help.  Being a doctor was a way of trying to help. Then I read something about artists, and they were talking about the system and how your work could help humanity, and you work could be outside of the system, instead focusing and turning ideas into something that would be healing. 

Child Porter, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1972 by Ming Smith

There is such a sense of intimacy and connectivity about your images. How do you capture that? What do you look for in your subject matter? 

Well there are stereotypes of the Black community, but there is so much love in the community, from people who were making and doing the best spiritually or going to church. There was just this stereotype of Black people, you know, and I never saw those types of images with the love and the empathy and the humanity with the people that were around me in my community.

You have become renowned for your portraiture for Black cultural figures and icons What did you hope to profess or present in these images of these icons?

I hope that other young people or students will find inspiration in what they are teaching: the struggles and what they went through to get to where we are now. For example, August Wilson, I went to Pittsburgh and photographed his hometown and economically depressed neighbourhoods and shot some of the places he talked about in his plays. He documented the comic and the tragic aspects of the African American experience in the 20th Century. The characters in Pittsburgh were the same characters that I knew in Ohio where I grew up, or Detroit, where I was born. 

Lou Drapper’s Pick, 1973 by Ming Smith

What would you say the main challenges you have faced in your career?

I would say being taken seriously. I am a better photographer than a talker. I am quiet, and I like that with photography you can be by yourself, you don’t have to talk. Being shy, photography was a way of me being in it but out of it at the same time. If you are a quiet person it’s harder to take you seriously.

I went to a gallery seeking representation, and the gallerist didn’t hardly even look at my photographs; it was very disappointing. Just like “ok, thank you”. Just total dismissal.

Did you have a lot of other female counterparts and friends that were experiencing the same in the art industry or the creative industry?

I am sure there was, and I’m sure there is, but I have really continued to be a loner and doing photography was almost like a friend or a companion and was how I spent my time. Being a photographer was a way of expressing yourself and going through your own challenges, and needs, and so I spent my time not really talking to anyone else. 

Ethiopian Crew, 1973 by Ming Smith

What was New York like when you arrived? What were you focussing your photography on?

When I got to New York I was photographing but I came for money, and one of the first jobs I had was as a model. It was like 100 dollars an hour: an Ohio pharmacist back then was making 100 dollars a week. 

Someone told me ‘you should be a model’, and so I tried it for a bit. When I first met Grace Jones, she was an aspiring model also. 

You were part of the Kamoinge Workshop: did you feel like things changed then, that you were a part of a group of like-minded individuals?

Going to the meetings, I was first introduced to photography as an art form. Prior to this I had not committed myself to being an artist.  I didn’t think of myself as a photographer as I was still studying pre-med curriculum. So when I came to Kamoinge, I had first heard about the collective on an assignment, where a photographer was talking about whether photography was an art form. I was invited into Kamoinge by Lou Draper, who also printed for Eugene Smith. He used to tell me stories about Lorraine Hansberry, who I loved. that was when I first learned about the goal of Kamoinge: to own and interpret our own images. Roy Decarava was one of the founders of Kamoinge, which came out of the Black Arts Movement, where they started plays, and there were writers, musicians, painters, artists. That is where I learnt about lighting. I remember one member saying that his neighbourhood grew up in Harlem, and that all the young men that he grew up with were all dead. That opened my eyes to the politics. 

Oolong’s Nightmare,Save The Children (for Marvin Gaye), New York City, New York 1979 by Ming Smith

Tell us about your experience of fashion photography.

In New York I never knew about fashion photographers and advertising: it was a completely new world. I had a chance to go into both of those worlds, as I was modelling. I met people like James Moore who was a beauty photographer, or Arthur Elgort or Deborah Turberville, who I loved. She photographed my lips for a Bloomingdales bag! She did fine art photography besides that; I really liked her. I lived in the Village, so I knew Lisette Model, and I would go eat at this little dinner, the Waverley – the cheapest diner! You could buy a meal for five dollars there, and that was where Lisette Model would eat too! She would tell me stories about Diane Arbus, and she would call her Dion. For the longest time, I didn’t realise she was talking about Diane Arbus as she called her Dion!

You documented some of the greatest spokespeople of the African American experience. 

August Wilson really told our stories through his plays: the comic and the tragic of the African American experience. That is what connected me to him, to go to Pittsburgh and photograph him. Eugene Smith did a famous series on Pittsburgh, but the African American experience wasn’t documented. This is another aspect of my work. We also have Katherine Dunham. She was an anthropologist, choreographer, writer. She was an activist as well: she wouldn’t perform in places unless they de-segregated the audiences. There is always a struggle, that is extremely distressing of the black American community. They simplified the experiences of the black community in the 20th Century. Katherine went to Haiti and Africa and notarised the dance technique. When she won the Kennedy award, she talked about how hip hop came out of her technique, meaning the isolations and different notations of moves and contractions and release. Now we have dance, twerk, afro-latin, west African, Haitian, rumba, Caribbean, west African beats. We have had all these different classes come out of the diaspora. That is what Katherine Dunham did. 

Flying High, Coney Island, 1976, by Ming Smith

How do you get inspired?

I follow mainly instincts and my heart about things. I hope to say these things in my work: that is the intention. 

Would you say your photography is driven by intuition?

Definitely. Intuition, which is also very spiritual. It is like there is a spirit that speaks within me, and I go with that. I trust that more than I trust my brain. 

What changes do you see in the photography industry now? 

There is a lot more inclusion, and participation. There are different avenues for photographers – there are now young black American fashion photographers, and I think a lot of the hip hop generation are participating in that inclusion, you can go into documentaries, they work with the NYT. I think this is not only in America, but globally. 

Beauty, Coney Island, 1976 by Ming Smith

Do you think there are still many racial obstacles that need to be overcome in the art industry?

I think of course, but I am in the middle of it, and sometimes it is harder to see, but of course I think there has been many steps in the right direction. Dr Deborah Willis, she started doing books on black images, she started this in publishing and the School – she has made a life of that. I remember she came to Kamoinge to do a book. It wasn’t easy for her to receive support so I think that we have a voice now greater than before and it is growing. People are conscious of it, and they are trying to make it right, or more honest: the documentation of us, including us. Not just the stereotypes. More human.

Do you see more women photographers being showcased?

Most definitely, but I also think that there is more of an option. Before, it was a question of what could you even do with photography! Photographers and artists now, there are different avenues and you can earn a living from it! I see this more and more. Before, what could you do with it, how could you earn a living? Now, photographers both men and women are like ‘oh I could do photography, portraiture.’ 

There wasn’t any kind of show, exhibitions, talks, creating a book… there wasn’t those options. You did it out of pure love in the beginning. You did photography as an art form.

Self Portrait Nursing (Total), 1986 by Ming Smith

Do you still photograph regularly?

Yes I do! The main obstacle with that is everything is digital now. I am doing a book at the moment for Aperture, and so taking it from film to digitising it, to having to re-edit everything over again… it’s a lot! I need a lot of help with the translating of it. 

What do you hope viewers take away from your works?

I think just the personal struggles, the empathy or the humanity or the altruism or just being supportive. Maybe the humanity, and that being exposed to the people I have photographed, they will know what to do. It was like when I heard my first August Wilson play, or the drum, and I went and took my first dance class and the teacher told me he was a Katherine Dunham dancer. People will get what they get from my photography: hopefully an experience that will inspire them in some kind of way. 

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PRADA Multiple Views SS21 – The Show That Never Happened

Last week on the occasion of Milan Digital Fashion Week, Prada put their best virtual feet forward with a presentation entitled “Multiple Views SS21 – The Show That Never Happened.” The digital show — which is allegedly Miuccia Prada’s last solo show before the Raf Simons partnership —  took the form of a 10 minute live video, that showcase the SS21 collection interpreted through the lenses of 5 different creatives, being Terence Nance, Joanna Piotrowska, Martine Syms, Juergen Teller and Willy Vanderperre. Each artist created a film that showcased a different view of the Prada collection and at large , the Prada ideology and identity, which served as a representation of flexibility and multiplicity, in a time where many are not able to commune, a different kind of community is then established. 

Throughout the collection, this season the house opted to focus on simple garments with use, value and longevity as the key themes. The collection is constructed around the quintessence of the house of Prada, its meaning, how clothes are worn , where and why. The meaning of multiplicity and compound uses , as paradoxes through sportswear, formality, classic and futurism are explored. The collection was co-ed and for menswear the silhouette was sharp, narrow and fitted , while for women couture volumes and treatments were explored. Leathers, cottons, taffeta , nylon , and other innovative fabrics are tailored with the flexibility to tell the stories that the wearer wants them to tell. Overall the SS21 collection is a much needed dose of simplicity during a time of chaos, the type of simplicity that can bend to whatever way you choose and embrace complexity yet still avoid chaos.

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Dior SS21 Menswear – Portrait of An Artist

For Men’s SS21 , Dior’s menswear artistic director Kim Jones shared his mic with Ghanian-Born Vienna trained artist Amoako Boafo for a collaboration which presented the fruit of a cultural conversation between the two artisans. The conversation initially began in 2019, when they met at the Robell Museum in Miami and ever since, the two have been in discussion about their love and admiration for each other’s work.

Kim Jones personally has a special love for African work as he considers the continent as home having spent years of childhood travelling across Botswana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya & Ghana which allowed him to feel a genuine connection to Boafo’s work that speaks to a contemporary African lifestyle . The artist is known for work like his Black Diaspora portraits which are an exploration of his identity and perceptions of Blackness and Black Masculinity. Aspects of these paintings are transposed onto garments with haute couture techniques. The collection used the artist’s work as base, which essentially was not only evident in the techniques used to reproduce his paintings but also through the colour palette used in the collection.  Shades of fluorescent yellow, blue, coral and green create  a delicate colour scheme while other pieces acted as a canvas for embroideries , knitwear and intarsia. The collection , as described by the house as “a reinvention of its passion for excellence through captivating dialogues between fashion and creation in all its forms, from painting to film .”

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Atomic Punk by Berber Theunissen

Images courtesy of Berber Theunissen

Dutch photographer Berber Theunissen’s project Atomic Punk offers a rare and intimate perspective on the North American road trip. Having experienced an unexpected pregnancy, a miscarriage, a marriage and a honeymoon, Theunissen and her partner took to the road to “capture the moments, emotions and memories in which these intense situations were revolving around [her].”

Theunissen addresses personal experiences in this body of work. Women often carry the burden of miscarriages – they are rarely spoken about in public or in the media, and women feel bound by the ‘13 week rule’ leaving many people isolated and alone. Atomic Punk captures this period of isolation and anxiety through the lens of the classic North American road trip. Theunissen’s work is often based on things that affect her personally: “things that I love, but things that make me feel vulnerable.” In one image, we see Theunissen slumped over a chair in her underwear. An intimate scene full of raw emotion, one that could only be captured behind closed doors. 

I could never have imagined the possible impact of a miscarriage until I’d experienced it myself. One out of four women will experience a miscarriage in their life, and there is still a big taboo on the subject. So yes I’m also sharing my story so that you’re not alone, and that you are allowed to feel whatever it is you feel. 

The project is full of contradictions. It is on one hand a cathartic journey to process feelings of loss. And on the other hand, a time for celebration. Wide expansive landscapes, stretching across California, contradict with private scenes in motel rooms. As Theunissen has said, “It’s all about the vibes and the mood. I think the landscapes and the portraits reinforce each other. They enhance the emotion of the story.” The camera gives Theunissen a sense of security, allowing her to “observe [her] life in a more objective way,” and so photographing these moments was the obvious reaction for her.  There is a disconnect between taking images during a moment of intimacy and then publishing them after for the world to see, this takes courage as emotions are laid bare. Theunissen and her partner have a coping mechanism for this, a way of protecting themselves: “some photographs are just for us and some will be published. Sometimes it takes a while before we share the photo, when the quiet has returned.”

In another image, Theunissen and her partner are on a bed, light streaming through the window, but neither of them are looking at the camera. We wonder what has just been said, what is going to be said and by who? Sometimes these are recreations of events that have already happened, but most of the time, Theunissen is capturing it as it happens. “Before I was a mother and there was no toddler with chubby grasping hands, my camera was almost always on standby on a tripod.” This reveals how a project like this can exist, how the camera can become the third member, recording moments of intimacy, tension and vulnerability. 

The romance of the North American road trip has lured photographers for years, inspired by some of the greats like Robert Frank and Stephen Shore. But these experiences are usually seen through the eyes of male photographers. The intimate approach to Atomic Punk, that explores intimacy, loss and love, shines a new angle on this type of photography. The motel rooms become places of privacy, the roads places for discussion and healing. Theunissen’s images provide a glimpse into a moment in time, allowing the camera to record and save the journey, and while it is a personal story, it has resonance for other people going through similar experiences. And as always, a Californian road trip provides a fitting backdrop for a cathartic journey to unfold. 

Prints of the series are available to buy at Open Doors Gallery in London

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