How Ibrahim Kamara found his place in fashion
Beyond the shells
Mr. Kamara’s work tends to flirt at the intersection of raw realism, pop culture tropes and the alternate realities he has created. Of his Debut cover for Dazed, the spotlight was on Nigerian activists holding their national flag; another showed a young black man in a Gucci tracksuit and high tops who was given an injection under the slogan “Freedom Is Coming But Where Are We Going?” Inside, an astronaut, a shuffling skater, a Rastafarian, an airline pilot, and a businesswoman stood in a row, moving towards a visor with a visor.
“Thank goodness Ib was not born in the UK,” said Lynette Nylander, Executive Editorial Director of Dazed. Ms. Nylander, a former assistant editor at iD and Teen Vogue, was hired along with Mr Kamara, who is dyslexic and for whom English is not his first language. The two had linked through common Sierra-Leonean roots when they met in 2016.
“We’re not a lot in fashion,” said Ms. Nylander. “But Ib has always been an outsider who took a non-conformist perspective from the world and then brought it into the fashion establishment. He has such an innate sense of the future and uses so much color that his ideas are almost impossible to ignore. “
Both editors spoke about the challenges of ingesting content in a pandemic, often with a young team scattered across time zones. For Mr. Kamara, whose commercial projects for luxury brands often have a multiple of the budget of his magazine projects, the challenge of “being creative with nothing” sometimes reminds him of his student days.
Its September issue, published last week, is far from amateur, with three front pages starring Rihanna, one of the most famous women in the world. In one, she assumes an Amazonian pose in a golden snakeskin body; in another she wears a jungle green Louis Vuitton hat on an afro wig of Marge Simpson proportions. On the third cover, she stands upright with a walking stick in a Burberry string bikini, trench coat and thigh-high boots. In a playful allusion to one of her most famous songs, she stands under an umbrella. The slogan? “The rule never ends.”
Mr. Kamara, who once worked on an ad campaign for Fenty, Rihanna’s clothing and cosmetics brand, styled the singer remotely (and key client looks in particular). In an inside photo, she is wearing a tailored, hooded cotton and canvas dress shaped like a marijuana stump by the Jamaican designer Jawara Alleyne.