Photos

The Warm, Welcoming Senegalese Coast Shines Through Sophie Zinga's 'Hibiscus' Collection

Photographer Florence Ngala and Sengalese designer Sophie Zinga collaborate for a gorgeous fashion editorial.

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.

Ngala continues:

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.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Photo by Florence Ngala.

Credits

Location: Dakar, Senegal

Photography: Florence Ngala

Models: Aminata Faye, Aicha Gueye

Creative Director: Sophie Zinga

Makeup: Aida Ndiaye

Interview

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

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