Earlier this year, Burberry asked British-Ghanaian model and activist Adwoa Aboah to work with German photographer Juergen Teller on a three-part portfolio showcasing their latest collection. Aboah has revealed the third part, which was concluded in Ghana where she’s originally from.
The project, introducing Burberry’s autumn/winter 2018 pre-collection, follows the first two chapters of the three-part campaign — in which Adwoa Aboah was first photographed in London (where she was born) and then in New York (where she currently lives). Burberry’s collection features checks and colours across knitwear, coats, suits and accessories. Also featured are new styles of The Belt Bag introduced in canvas, new colourways and a smaller size.
The series includes a set of intimate images of Adwoa with her Ghanaian relatives, including her grandmother Gladys Aboah, great-auntie Mary Asare, cousin Kensemaa Aboah and her auntie Tina (Ernestina Aboah), who also designed one-off outfits made from the Burberry Vintage check especially for the occasion.
In a heart-felt Instagram post, Aboah shared an image in which she and four women including her grandmother and aunts are shown wearing traditional Ghanaian dresses designed by her aunt but made of vintage Burberry fabrics.
Adwoa writes in the post, “Going home, back to the motherland. A place where I felt like an outsider but always wanted to belong. Growing up differently, never knowing the mother tongue.”
The model went on to talk about how most people have only seen one side of Ghana, and how she now wants to put a spotlight on her home country. “I want the world to know that there are two families, both that mean the world to me, two sides to my story. I want the world to see the beauty and Ghana to have that moment in the light, one that it has always deserved. I have been claimed by Ghana, told to go and show the world, make them proud. I belong. So that’s what this is, a message of love and pride to my family and the people of Ghana,” she concluded.
Despite growing up in the UK, and now residing in New York, Ghana still holds a very special place in Adwoa’s heart. “It feels like home because I have so many lovely memories from there,” Adwoa told Vogue. “I think it feels like home, more so because it was where my dad grew up and it is very much a part of him. He is such a family man and he has really taken that into our family and had such a presence in mine and my sister’s life. Although we didn’t grow up in a completely African household, there have been certain hints throughout our whole life. Even though I have felt like an outsider, I always secretly felt like it was home.”
Adwoa art-directed the shoot and cast her friend British model Sonny Hall to feature alongside her in the campaign, shot on location around her family home in Accra, Ghana.
“I tried very hard not to be too emotional about this trip, but it’s so special for everyone to see where the story started. To be in Ghana means coming home. I’ve been able to bring close friends of mine here, and my grandma and my family have had a taste of what the other part of my life is like,” Adwoa explained.
Speaking to Vogue about the style, Adwoa said:
“Part of us is enamored by the sentiment, but we can’t pretend that these clothes are nice. It makes sense for storytelling purposes, as at the end of the day, these are traditional clothes. The styles and tailoring are not terrible, and they are age and size appropriate to each person in the series.
“The main crux, however, is the print and the fabric. The styles don’t make a good pairing with the bolshy Burberry print, and we think it might look better if the print was translated into a different fabric like chiffon or silk.
“Either way, we think it’s a good idea in theory and for the aesthetic purpose, but we really don’t want to see anyone walking around in Burberry trad – it’s a hard no from us!”
Africans are steadily making their marks on the international map, with the likes of musical artist Wizkid, and actor and producer John Boyega making memorable content while inspiring others on the continent. Aboah’s work with Burberry is a great contribution to the influence of fashion on culture and perception, and a celebration of African people telling their own unique stories through history and style.