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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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Apple Music's Mzanzi playlists.

Apple Music Launches 'Stream Local' Initiative to Support South African Artists

The initiative is part of the music streaming platform's efforts to support South African musicians amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Apple Music has launched a new initiative dubbed "Stream Local" which is set to launch on April 11th. The initiative forms part of the music streaming giant's efforts to support South African musicians as the industry is increasingly negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Playlists across genres as well as the albums of several chart-topping South African artists will be featured in addition to newly-released music.

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Audio
Darkovibes

The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Sarkodie, Cassper Nyovest, Elaine, Darkovibes, Stogie T, Phyno, C Natty, and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Art
Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Spotlight: Nicole Rafiki's Images Merge the Contemporary with the Traditional to Challenge Stereotypes

Get familiar with the work of Norway-based Congolese visual artist Nicole Rafiki.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Nicole Rafiki, a Congolese visual artist who uses symbolism to challenge stereotypes in a critical way. Read more about the inspirations behind her work below, and check out some of her stunning images underneath. Be sure to keep up with the artist on Instagram and Facebook and her Rafiki Arts Initiative here.


How would you describe yourself as an artist?

As an interdisciplinary artist, I use symbolism to re-imagine and challenge the stereotypical depiction of spaces, contexts and the people who are affected by global migration. I view my work as a platform for dialogues about identity, fluidity, place, and belonging. As an artist with a diverse cultural, historic and artistic background, I use art to inform, engage and heal. Because it is too easy to fall into the trap of promoting idealism or clichés, I make it a point to be critical and analytical in my work.

What is the message behind your recent photo-series "The Crown"?

This work came about after I had been stuck in Lagos traffic for 2 hours, listening to a radio show about the role of women in the household. One middle-aged woman called in to say that a "proper woman has to be domesticated". Listening to that radio show just made it seem like, for many people, it doesn't matter how educated, professionally accomplished or otherwise successful a woman is as long as she does not have the required domestic skills required by the African society. The urban attire complemented by traditional African elements illustrates the double role that many young African women have in our communities. And yet, that point is made against a yellow backdrop, symbolizing our power, historical achievements, hope and optimism for the future.

As an African artist, what do you want to communicate with your art about the continent?

The core message in my art is the promotion of our personal and collective healing process. That is only possible if we all understand the importance of playing our part. I believe that this is a very important time to be active in the contemporary art field. We have reached a historical point where Africans from the continent and the diaspora are challenging the status quo in the art industry by creating their own platforms to discuss, share and challenge the dominating philosophical, artistic, political and cultural perspectives on art. We have the power, individually and collectively to create a different legacy for the next generation and have personally just begun exploring all the possibilities out there.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Mkono" (2018), in loving memory of my grandmother.Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Untitled" (2019), in loving memory of Benon Lutaaya. Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Not without my bags" (2019)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Kadogo (2019)"Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Mwenye imani haitaji macho" (A man of faith needs no eyes), (2019). Model: AfrogallonismImage courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Crown" (2020)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Crown" (2020). Model: Deborah Kandoua AffouéImage courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Kwabende" (2019)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

News Brief

South African Hip-Hop Producers Makwa and Lunatik Will Battle It Out on Instagram Live

Another exciting South African hip-hop IG Live battle is happening.

Makwa and Lunatik are the next pair of producers who will go toe to toe in an Instagram Live battle at 10 P.M. (SAST). Both producers are responsible for some of South Africa's biggest and era-defining hits. Makwa has produced most of Kwesta's biggest hits such as "Spirit" and "Vur Vai" among others. Lunatik has produced such monster hits as K.O's "Caracara," OkMalumKoolKat's "Amalobolo" and DJ Citi Lyts' "Vura." We know... we are getting goosebumps, too.

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