To the Moon and Back From Off-White

Evidence of Ibrahim Kamara’s rare talent as a fashion stylist can be found in the magazine’s March issue Fashion Italia, with her extraordinary portfolio of the transformed Gisele Bündchen. Transformations are what Kamara does best, not only transforming supermodels but also perfecting the vision of designers like Riccardo Tisci, Erdem and Virgil Abloh. Now, she’s about to debut her most ambitious transformation: herself.

On Thursday morning, stylist becomes designer as Kamara makes her official debut as “art and image director” for the late Abloh’s Off-White. The title masks what is essentially a creative director.

No surprises, Kamara is skittish. “Ultimately, I can cheat with styling. I can twist a jacket and make it look fantastic. But I can’t cheat with the design. Yes, I’m feeling a little nervous because I’m conceptualizing for the first time, but I told myself that I’m going to be emotionally disconnected from everything for now. When I spoke to Kamara last week, he hadn’t seen all the clothes together yet, so he hadn’t started the styling process. “I’m going to walk into this collection like it’s the first time in my life, and I’m going to reimagine it.”

Though it’s not quite like he’s no longer thoroughly enmeshed in the story he wants to tell. He announced the basic concept in the last Off-White pre-collection. This is a mysterious extrapolation of Kamara’s urban observations. Constantly traveling in search of photos for magazines, he is very dependent on courier services. “They make things move, they make everything work. Everyone gives something, gets something. Kamara is also a science fiction fan. He began to dream about what a delivery to the moon might look like.

It was previously called Lunar Shipping. This new collection is Lunar Delivery. Expect silvery spaciousness. But also pay attention to the details of the outerwear taken from the ground supplier: the straps, handles and zippers of his bag, the metal frame of his bike, the black rubber of his bike tires, maybe even a rear light turned into a bike heel. shoe.

“And when you deliver something, you follow the map, so there’s a lot of interpretation of the map in our fabrications, in our linings, in our jacquards,” says Kamara. “I’m really taking this delivery concept apart and then putting it into another universe. I’m obsessed with colliding ideas to create a new subculture.”

This iconoclasm has always been a hallmark of his styling. And Kamara’s West African roots often added another rich layer. When he returns to Sierra Leone, he is struck by the strangeness of the red earth. “I was born in the poorest neighborhood of Freetown, there were corrugated iron houses around us. We call it “pan body” and when water hits it, it changes color.” You can see it in Kamary’s Off-White: red earth, rusty iron, and the shades and textures of textiles he remembers from his childhood, now transformed by technology.

Abloh freely praised the almost umbilical bond he felt with Kamara during their collaboration. “It’s like ruining a great Renaissance painting to stop Ib.” Famous also left a mountain of unrealized ideas, so it’s safe to say that plenty of spiritual guidance has been offered since his death. But this time, Kamara really feels like he flew solo from start to finish.

Of course there are transfers. “V had a conceptual mindset that I kept in my approach to making clothes, and we also kept that childlike sensibility and curiosity.” But when I ask what differences we can expect, he replies: “The American point of view has a pop culture sense in many references, and I didn’t come from a pop culture sensibility. I grew up around the craft. So maybe I’ll bring an African flavor. Also, America has a very street sensibility. I love the realism of streetwear, but I also like chic and a combination of realism and fantasy. I look back on my classes at St Martins. You really think beyond where you come from.

Hence the idea of ​​Lunar Delivery, which seems to fit Afrofuturism. “It’s instant,” Kamara fires back. “I’m obsessed with science. I’m obsessed with the galaxy. I also connect it with my African roots. I will always refer to where I come from. Whenever I come home, I feel like it’s a new world, what’s next. There is optimism, there is hope and so much beauty. If you throw Sierra Leone into American thinking, it becomes a whole new conversation.

Add to that his continued belief in punk as an incentive to twist ideas and make new connections. “There will always be a sense of clash at the core, which I think is also Afrofuturistic. We question everything that is a big part of Off-White. He has punk thinking embedded in his DNA.”

“I don’t want to just make a jacket that’s already been made,” adds Kamara. “I want to have some twist to it. I want to shake it up a bit, turn things upside down, see what they look like, what volumes they create. It seems to me that my experience in styling also ignites this desire to play with clothes. Pushing one thing until I’m really sick of it, until I don’t want to look at it anymore.”

As I said, a master of illusion like Kamara can play pranks in the pursuit of one editorial image, but creating a collection of clothes that must live beyond the present is a completely different scenario. Never mind that it will also be open to interpretation by his stylist peers. It will be a new experience. He is hardened. And there is one more first place waiting for him. “Usually when I’m styling shows, I give it my all, but ultimately I don’t have to leave because it’s someone else’s vision. This time it’s completely my vision from the ground up.”

And so?

“I think I’ll leave. Just me.”

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