Afrofuturism takes Fashion

Afrofuturism novelist Nnedi Okoroafor may bring to life a world of fantasy set in Africa with her words, but a young photographer and stylist are bringing it to life with their fashion works.

Inspired by streetwear seen in the metropolitan city, Afrofuturist photography series shot in Lagos, Nigeria by William Ukoh and styled by photographer and filmmaker, Daniel Obasi, explores the futuristic possibility of new African aesthetics in a new visual essay, Lagosfuturism. With the help of models Rebecca, Eniola, and Nelson, the creative team, in collaboration with Whitespace Creative Agency, conjures a daring fashion-forward editorial that’s visually and conceptually captivating.

Celebrating fashion, futurism and creativity, William describes Lagosfuturism as “a fashion portrait piece highlighting the creative uprising going on in West Africa.”

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Lagosfuturism
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Lagosfuturism

But this is not Daniel’s first venture into futurism. The artist whose works generally revolve around non-conformity broke onto the international scene last year with a fashion film and photo series, titled The Illegal Project, which looks at gender identity and the challenges the LBTQIA community face in Nigeria.

“Nina Simone said, ‘How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?’ I wanted to achieve something like that and reflect a part of the society, glimpsing into a fantasy of an Afrofuturistic time where it was okay to feel genderless and just be yourself,” Daniel tells ID about the film which is deeply influenced by the young artist’s raw, colorful, and Afrofuturist photography practice, and shot in the Ebute Metta neighborhood of Lagos.

Still from The Illegal Project. Courtesy, Daniel Obasi

He continued, “I found myself in fashion suddenly, but I was coming from a place in my life that needed to be expressed; there was a lot I wanted to talk about, from my personal experiences to the things I saw on the streets of Lagos, how it changes people. I started off just wanting to express myself visually. Eventually, I found myself taking on bigger concepts and issues that affected people, I found myself researching Afrofuturism and developing around the ideas of fantasies and ethereal moods as a way to proffer a non-stereotypical narrative on these subjects—rich in culture and ethnography but always very emotional. I believe fashion is such a powerful tool, and that a photograph can hold a million truths.”

After the release of The Illegal Project, which has been featured on major fashion magazines internationally, the 23-year-old Daniel was approached by fabric brand Vlisco to collaborate on a fashion film to help re-contextualise the brand for a younger generation.

The short film titled An Alien in Town, was released earlier this year and follows two stylish humans who take on the responsibility of teaching a new found alien how to fit within the Lagos metropolis.

Still from An Alien in Town. Courtesy, Daniel Obasi


“It was really about building on the idea of having a stranger who has no idea what African fashion is or what it is like to be in Lagos to live through that in a very simple every day scenario that is completely relatable,” Daniel says about the film, which was shot in Lagos and Ogun state.