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Louis Philippe de Gagoue. Photo courtesy of the artist.

NextGen: Louis Philippe de Gagoue Is the Dynamic Photographer Who Thrives Off of Spontaneity

Meet the Cameroonian-Ivorian photographer who's creating forward thinking editorials on his own terms.

This week, we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures". Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it.

Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here, with the second edition of the conversation here.

We'll highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in the return of our profile series, 'NextGen.'

Cameroonian-Ivorian photographer, stylist and art director, Louis Philippe de Gagoue, has an eye whose work has landed him in Vogues across the world, France's L'Officiel, Elle, Nylon, Dubai's Brownbook and Germany's Blonde.

For de Gagoue, fashion has no borders. His portfolio is a unique blend of his African heritage alongside the Western and Far Eastern worlds. He's often described as vibrant, quirky and cool. His aesthetic is unbounded; it's home to culturally loaded settings, androgyny, jarring colors and compositions. We, the viewers, are transported to his imagination—his work offers a sort of escapism.

Though signed to Paris's notable Artsphere agency, he bounces from France to Cameroon to Ivory Coast to Morocco and celebrates not having citizenship to a Western country, for when he is famous, "No one will be able to disassociate him from the African continent."


Photo by Louis Philippe de Gagoue, courtesy of the artist.

It's important to note the trajectory of this multi-hyphenate's career. Louis Philippe studied law and made the transition to fashion 7 years ago. He didn't pick up a camera until 2016 and we're grateful because his gift is incontestable. He landed his first Vogue cover in February of 2017, 7 months after he switched gears to photography. He assertively describes the aforementioned as, "rare and unheard of."

When you're with de Gagoue, you have the ability to effortlessly draw inspiration from humans, travel, history and culture. He speaks candidly and unapologetically about the fact that he's not following anyone on social media because he wants to discover things on his own. His shoots are comprised of creating mood boards and spontaneously mixing looks on set. Nothing is premeditated. "It's all about the feel, the taste, nature, animals, experimenting and making mistakes," he says.

He continues:

"When you are in fashion, people think you are dumb. Do you really think Karl Lagerfeld is dumb? To be an artist, you have to know the industry and its history. Fashion is a lifestyle. We live for beauty in this industry."

For the artist, diversity is of the utmost importance. de Gagoue seeks out models of all sorts but in black women, he is particularly drawn to strong features, attitude and what would be deemed unconventional beauty.

Photo by Louis Philippe de Gagoue, courtesy of the artist.

"Afro" is a term he rejects, even more so, "Afrofuturism." He says it implies a traditional mindset that he refers to as "reductive."

"It's too trendy," de Gagoue declares. He refutes the aforementioned because when his white counterparts shoot black or African people, they aren't boxed in the same way he is. Despite the aforementioned, he empowers us. "I want to show that Africa is not what people think. I play with stereotypes and show we can find beauty in everything," he affirms. "The continent is beautiful from its architecture; to its women. We shouldn't wait for anyone to help us. The future is being true to who you are and where you are coming from."

He is possessed by an admirable confidence. We jokingly discuss the headpieces he has dawned for 2.5 years. He refers to them as his, "art signature" and states people in the industry hipped him to the fact that Gucci used his trademark in a recent show and collection.

With brands like Chanel, Prada, Versace, Edun, Loza Maléombho and an upcoming 10-page spread in Russian Vogue under his belt, Louis Philippe de Gagoue displays there is no holding him back.

Audrey Lang is an alumna of Northeastern University and a Boston-based site merchandiser. A surveyor of life who's enamored with all things fashion, art and Africa, keep up with her on Instagram and Tumblr.

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(Photo Courtesy of Awesome Tapes From Africa)

Antoinette Konan, Vanguard of Ivorian Music, Gets a Comeback

The singer and percussionist is getting a reissue via Awesome Tapes from Africa.

Prepare your ears and ready the dance floor for the return of the "Queen of the Ahoka." Awesome Tapes from Africa (ATFA) is reissuing the queen Antoinette Konan's eponymous 1986 album in the coming weeks. For music aficionados, crate diggers and those new to Konan's music alike—this is excellent news.

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(Photo courtesy of Andy S)

Ivorian Rapper Andy S Delivers Hot Fire in ‘Mi-Temps’

Following a year-long hiatus, the rapper kicks off a new chapter with her latest single.

Get ready for a rapid-fire delivery from Andy S, a 22-year-old rapper from Abidjan, Ivory Coast who personifies "spit fire."

The rapper debuted a new track last week, called "Mi-Temps," a heavy hitting French rap that has quickened lyrics spilling over a looped chant echoing in the background. The passion and cadence with which she spits the chorus evokes trap vibes—perfect for jumping up and down, and shaking your hair in rhythmic defiance. "Mi-Temps" was produced by Ugandan/South African producer Mark Akol and mixed by Sipho the Gift.

Mi-temps is slang for "half-time" and the rapper says this in the description underneath the track:

"I had disappeared a little bit from the scene... I didn't feel well, I needed a break. Thank God this half-time was positive for me I worked in the shadows on quite a few projects. 'Mi-temps' is a big freestyle to blow the whistle of this new chapter."

It makes sense as Andy S has been gone for over a year. Her most recent track on her YouTube channel is "Hey Hey (This is a freestyle)" from July 2018 and she's been quiet ever since. Hopefully we hear a lot more from her in the future and this is truly the new chapter she says it is.

Check out the new single, "Mi-Temps," and watch a video from last year displaying more of her lyrical prowess, "2k18," below:



Andy S - 2K18 (Directed By Ben Sangare) youtu.be

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Photo by Hamish Brown

In Conversation: Lemn Sissay On His New Book About Re-claiming the Ethiopian Heritage Stolen From Him by England’s Foster Care System

In 'My Name Is Why,' the 2019 PEN Pinter award winner passionately advocates for children in the institutional care system, and in turn tells a unique story of identity and the power in discovering one's heritage.

It took the author Lemn Sissay almost two decades to learn his real name. As an Ethiopian child growing up in England's care system, his cultural identity was systematically stripped from him at an early age. "For the first 18 years of my life I thought that my name was Norman," Sissay tells OkayAfrica. "I didn't meet a person of color until I was 10 years of age. I didn't know a person of color until I was 16. I didn't know I was Ethiopian until I was 16 years of age. They stole the memory of me from me. That is a land grab, you know? That is post-colonial, hallucinatory madness."

Sissay was not alone in this experience. As he notes in his powerful new memoir My Name Is Why, during the 1960s, tens of thousands of children in the UK were taken from their parents under dubious circumstances and put up for adoption. Sometimes, these placements were a matter of need, but other times, as was the case with Sissay, it was a result of the system preying on vulnerable parents. His case records, which he obtained in 2015 after a hardfought 30 year campaign, show that his mother was a victim of child "harvesting," in which young, single women were often forced into giving their children up for adoption before being sent back to their native countries. She tried to regain custody of young Sissay, but was unsuccessful.

Whether they end up in the foster system out of need or by mistake, Sissay says that most institutionalized children face the same fate of abuse under an inadequate and mismanaged system that fails to recognize their full humanity. For black children who are sent to white homes, it often means detachment from a culturally-sensitive environment. "There are too many brilliant people that I know who have been adopted by white parents for me to say that it just doesn't work," says Sissay. "But the problem is the amount of children that it doesn't work for."

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(Screenshot from "Every Woman" video)

Check out Cameroonian Crooner Vagabon’s New Ode to Female Power

The singer dropped a video for new single "Every Woman" today, shot by fellow Cameroonian director Lino Asana.

Cameroonian-born singer-songwriter Laetitia Tamko, better known as her stage name Vagabon, has been spoiling us with delights as of late. First, the crooner teased us with two singles, "Flood" and "Water Me Down" from her forthcoming sophomore album, Vagabon, a work she wrote and produced herself. And today, she surprised us with a new single and video for "Every Woman"—a track Tamko claims is the "thesis of the album," as per a press statement reported by The Fader magazine

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