Elaborate Fashions and Hairstyles Explore Beauty and Power in Photographer Luke Nugent's Lavish Portraits
London-based photographer Luke Nugent (previously) captures a wide swath of beauty and expression through his powerful images centered on Black models. Often in commanding poses, the subjects sport evocative fashions and elaborately designed makeup. One model is covered in Kintsugi-style cracks and encrusted with glimmering gems, while others wear futuristic garments and lavishly styled hair. The deeply considered photographs are created collaboratively with makeup and hair artists, stylists, and creative directors.
Find more of Nugent’s photography on Instagram and Behance—where you can also see his recent EQUILIBRIUM series that was produced in collaboration with Melissa Simon-Hartmon—and pick up a print in his shop.
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In a Celebratory Series, Photographer Toby Coulson Documents the Eccentric Fashions of Designer Oumou Sy
When photographer Toby Coulson met iconic Senegalese fashion designer Oumou Sy in Dakar, they decided to photograph some of her most distinctive garments. “The city has an amazing energy especially as the sun goes down. I thought it would be an amazing accompaniment to Oumou Sy’s theatrical and outlandish couture pieces,” Coulson shares with Colossal. Together, they observed the area for a few days to chose spots and time the sunlight.
The result is a captivating series of photographs, which were originally published in Document Journal, that captures the myriad textures and patterns of Sy’s unorthodox designs: A woven accessory envelops a model, lining her arms, head, and torso in circular sculptural forms. Created as a tribute to Issa Samb—a Senegalese painter, sculptor, performance artist, playwright, and poet—the patchwork-style jacket is so large that the wearer appears to be balancing on stilts as he towers above rooftops. While focused on the garments, each photograph also frames the beige architecture and sandy streets of Dakar.
Sy finds inspiration everywhere, opting to see creativity in all aspects of life and to communicate her ideas through the mundane. She explains in an interview:
I take what I can and make it my own. I enjoy working with different materials, things that surround me, that I come across in my everyday life. I’m a self-proclaimed hunter and gatherer of things; I look for natural elements to work with [such] as plants, herbs, barks, and natural dyes, using either traditional or modern techniques. I choose a material and look for a way to highlight it. I’ve never learned to read and write, and so my fashion is the most important vessel for the expression of my creativity.
The designer’s penchant for bold, dramatic fashion is informed by Senegalese culture, which prizes style and clothing as a mode of expression, beauty, and power. Coulson’s photographs translate those traditions and values through visual documentation. “It was very fulfilling to do a fashion shoot that wasn’t about selling the latest clothes and more about celebrating the work and influence on Senegalese culture of Oumou Sy,” he notes.
To follow Coulson’s photographs capturing the lives of people around the world, head to Instagram.
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Say goodbye to the days of fumbling an unwieldy melon while trying to carry in groceries. Japanese designer Tsuchiya Kaban’s latest leather bag provides an elegant, luxury vessel tote around your fruit. Holding exactly one, round watermelon, the carrier was crafted by Yusuke Kadoi as part of a project titled The Fun of Carrying, which encouraged designers to create playful, inventive items as side projects. Watch the video below to see Kadoi’s process and how simply he secures a watermelon inside. (via Spoon & Tamago)
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Trendy Octogenarian Couple Sports Stylish, Eclectic Garments Left Behind at Their Laundromat in Taiwan
Many of us fret over the loss of a beloved sweater or discovering a lone sock, but we can at least find some solace in knowing that the garments abandoned at Wansho Laundry in central Taiwan are being worn to their full potential. The laundromat’s owners, 83-year-old Chang Wan-ji and 84-year-old Hsu Sho-er, have been fashioning the skirts, blouses, and trousers left behind into adorable, eclectic styles. Just last month, their grandson Chang Reef began sharing photographs of the octogenarian couple modeling their fashionable outfits—which often include matching shoes, graphic tees, and a range of accessories like hats, big sunglasses, and small leather pouches—on Instagram, where they’ve since gone viral. For more of Chang and Hsu’s backstory (they got married in 1959!), dive into this New York Times profile. (via Kottke)
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United Kingdom-based designer Alexandra Sipa creates spellbinding accessories and garments from waste electrical wires. The Central Saint Martins’ graduate initially was inspired to experiment with wires as textiles when her headphones broke, leading her to extract the colorful coils and cables to create wire lace.
The designer learned to craft vibrant lace from YouTube videos, books, and her own mishaps, and one of her enchanting dresses took 1,000 hours to complete. Many cultural and historical references are woven into her pieces, including her interest in extreme austerity and heightened femininity in Romania. “The aesthetic of Bucharest is a mix of French architecture, grey brutalist apartment complexes, and mega communist structures (like the Palace of Parliament), while the women are usually very careful about the way they look, getting all dressed up for a supermarket trip and loving the ultra-glamorous, ultra-feminine look.”
Objects of nostalgia, the ruffled garments evoke her Romanian grandmother’s damaged, garden fence. They mirror the endless colors that were revealed throughout the cracks. More broadly, Sipa’s work is dedicated to how her grandmother cares for her household objects, reinventing them with time. “Every time I visit her, there’s something changed around the house, something moved, something repainted,” the designer says. “She will make any object look like a treasure, no matter where it came from. That stuck with me.”
Sipa’s garments echo her views on sustainability, and she believes that otherwise unwanted products should be seen as an opportunity to create new inventions and discover unusual techniques. “As my practice is rooted in creating luxury products out of local waste sources, my collection tackles one of the fastest-growing sources of waste in electronic waste, reaching 50 million tons in 2020,” she explains.
The designer’s goal is the complete circularity of her garments. “The industry is becoming aware of the urgency for change due to the climate emergency and the increasing demand from consumers for more sustainable options,” she explains. “However, companies need to recognize the business opportunity in the circular fashion industry.” The designer also stresses the importance of recognizing the economic, environmental, and social impacts. “ Fashion needs to become more sustainable from the inside out, not only in the materials used but also ethically in the treatment and compensation of workers in the production chain and workers designing the clothes.”
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Los Angeles-based designer Laura Estrada handcrafts sustainable jewelry pieces that are conceptually driven, sculptural adornments for the body and face. She uses ancient metalsmithing techniques to create timeless, wearable heirlooms that merge fashion with art. “From a very young age, I have been building little objects with my hands, ” Estrada explains. “This obsession manifested itself when I took a metalsmithing class in college.”
Metal is the designer’s chosen medium, and she describes it as a fierce, unforgiving, stubborn, resilient, and enduring material. “It reminded me of myself,” she explains. After receiving her BFA, Estrada undertook an apprenticeship with a master jeweler, an experience that refined her skills before she launched Laura Estrada Jewelry in 2018.
The designer finds her inspiration from diverse influences—whether observing nature while out on a hike or the images she comes across in art history books. “My ideas also thrive in a collaborative environment, and my conceptual work often starts with conversations or projects with other creatives, that then evolve into a deeper, more experimental direction for the work,” Estrada explains.
When creating her body-spanning pieces, the designer’s artistic process is sometimes chaotic, and she initially starts working and modeling with metal. “I have found even if I sketch it out before, everything changes when it becomes three dimensional,” she explains. “The metal takes on shapes and forms that I piece together repeatedly until it feels right, then I solder it all together. I work very intuitively and do my best to trust the flow of my creative process.”
Estrada’s jewelry evokes a sense of resilience, empowerment, and confidence. The physical and conceptual construction of her pieces merges the innovation and integrity of ancient design practices with future technologies, and she finds unique methods to harmonize the two. As she explains, “With a focus on the intersection between art, technology, and identity, my recent exploration of masks and face pieces as ritual adornment aim to empower the wearer in their chosen form of identity and individuality.”
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.