South London-born photographer Nadine Ijewere is half Jamaican and half Nigerian and incorporates her familial roots in all of her work, aiming to champion diversity using carefully selected subjects. Since graduating from London College of Fashion, Ijewere has been opening eyes with a catalogue of striking work, from Hair Story editorials, which examined women of colour and an array of hair styles, to her photo series The Misrepresentation of Representation, where she explores different cultures using beautiful portraits of women, a major part of her thesis while graduating The London College of Fashion.
In the newest #StellaBy Series, Ijewere’s theme in her work is no different. Her series sees male models wearing Stella McCartney women’s and men’s Spring Summer 2017 with street-cast models who were cast in Nigeria. The Series results in raw, powerful imagery of men and women facing Ijewere’s lens, with stoic facial expressions. Ijewere injected her personal flair to showcase the collection, with a signature touch of humour.
Nadine Ijewere received wide attention for her well-known series entitled Same/Difference, which sheds a light on the definition of beauty through gentle portraits of siblings. In this #StellaBy Series#StellaBy Series, her photos draw on the themes she normally explores in her work – the exploration of the Other in fashion, and storytelling through the vulnerability and strength of her subjects, who are of an array of often boxed-in ethnicities: “Culture is a big inspiration of mine as well as identity, which is a reoccurring theme within my work,” Ijewere explains.
“My work is all about celebration of diversity, and different interpretations of beauty. I think its a wonderful thing and I want to capture that,” she says. With the collections presenting strong, bright colours and prints, Ijewere made sure her carefully-rendered photography reflected this. Ijewere decided on Nigeria as the location as it inspired the “raw, earthy element” in her work. “At the time time, I wanted to shoot this project where I have family heritage, using people with my background I think this adds a more personal approach to the images,” she recounts.
“As the project is called #StellaBy, I wanted to add more of my identity to the imagery. I wanted to give a feeling of diversity and not sticking to the rules – being different. Nigeria is a country that is known to be quite conservative, particularly in fashion with no blurring between lines. So I wanted to shake things up,” she says – aptly using her heritage to inform her work. With men modeling the women’s clothes, Ijewere yet again challenged the idea of womenswear, by making the portraits unexpected “I think it questions the labelling of ‘womenswear’ and brings more character to the work.”
It is clear that the photographer’s love of portraiture is embedded into her work – the models cast for the shoot had a sense of vulnerability and strength which is so often highlighted in Ijewere’s imagery: “The eyes are the most important feature. In this instance, the clothing sometimes does not matter as much because I want to capture the essence of the subject.”
Discover the collaboration here.
Words / Estefania Hageman
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