The 80s, 90s Kenyan barbershop tradition

The second edition of the Kenyan music and arts festival, Africa Nouveau brought together photographers, designers, stylists and fashionable festival goers.  With support from British Council’s East Africa Arts programme photographers Meklit Mersha (ET), Peter Mutuma (KE), Georgina Johnson (UK), Alex Ropes (UK) set stylists Lucy Robi, Brian Msafiri (KE), set designer Randy Pohler (KE) and producers, Brian Emry (KE) Sabrina Henry (UK) worked on a live fashion shoot that spoke to the festivals’ theme Afro-Bubblegum which encourages the creation of African Art  that is fun, fearless and frivolous.

Together, they developed vibrant sets and played with the ideas of ascension, the use of fabric, a stylised barber shop and festival sartorial. Some of the clothing and accessories were made by Kenyan designers with stands at the festival and some who were the festival-goers own. The outcome was powerful images that are a reflection of resourceful and dynamic creatives coming together to express themselves in such colourful ways. Some of the images were brought together in the festivals publication, Season One and can be viewed here.

We caught up with Alex Ropes co-founder and Creative Director at the popular British streetwear brand Basement Approved. In the video below, Alex reflects on his experience recognising similarities between creative communities in Nairobi, London and the current youth culture.

Africa Nouveau (KE) and Africa Utopia (UK) collaborate

A thread running through the collaborative live fashion shoot was a creative relationship between Africa Nouveau’s Creative Director Muthoni Ndonga and Hannah Pool, Curator of Africa Utopia, an annual arts and culture Festival at the Southbank Centre in London. While sharing their experiences and approaches, they agreed to create opportunities for their team to work on both the live fashion shoot in Nairobi and the fashion show at Africa Utopia. This led to a dynamic collaboration at both festival led by British fashion curator and stylist Sabrina Henry and Kenyan content creator and stylist, Brian Emry. 

In the video below they reflect in conversation on their inspiration, motivation, and their time working in new environments giving us a taste of what it might be like to be part of their world