It’s beyond heartening to see how things come full circle for young African artists.
Florence Ngala, who we featured first in our series, This Week In Photos, reached out to me with a gorgeous fashion editorial featuring designs from Senegal’s Sophie Zinga. How this collaboration came to be is a great example of how you never know who can come across your work—thanks to the internet.
“It’s actually a funny story,” she says via email. “Nigerian artist Oroma Elewa and I had met before (she’s awesome) and after having a second encounter and a chat, she went on to get in touch with me about working with her during NYFW. While traveling to meet with her in Chelsea, I saw the amazing and super dope Amy Sall getting into a cab and took a street style shot of her. I sent her the photo and she posted it, which is how Sophie, a good friend of hers, went on to find my work and reach out to me about shooting for her.”
This link up was an opportunity for Ngala to visit and work on the continent for the first time, and produce work she came to love.
The collection, entitled “Hibiscus,” is inspired by the flower native to the designer, as well as the hibiscus flower’s socioeconomic impact on Senegal and in countries in the Caribbean (care for any sorrel, anyone?).
“There is a widely popular drink called bissap, which is made from the hibiscus flower,” Zinga says. “Bissap is a national drink which is widely offered during the most important ceremonies in Senegal and has medicinal virtues. The hibiscus is widely referenced in the collection in terms of its vivid colors and its texture.”
For Ngala, her inspiration from the photography angle came from Zinga’s exquisite designs and how her creativity and effort shines through the collection. “She already had a strong vision for the vibe she wanted in the images,” Ngala says.
When working with her, she expressed how inspired she was by the “African Cosmopolitan,” the working, global-minded, savvy woman. She wanted the images to be clean and to have a modern, high end look, while at the same time, paying homage to her roots.
She’d explained to me that this is why she casted the models she did because they looked “quintessentially Senegalese” as well as why she decided to shoot the images in the country where she’s from. We scouted other locations but ended up reverting to her childhood home, which her parents gracefully let us use. This was also cool because I brought to her attention that I thought it would be so dope to hold the shoot there after she shared with me that this was where she grew her brand out of years prior.
Have a look at selects from Hibiscus below.
Location: Dakar, Senegal
Photography: Florence Ngala
Models: Aminata Faye, Aicha Gueye
Creative Director: Sophie Zinga
Makeup: Aida Ndiaye