How Ibrahim Kamara Found His Place in Fashion

Ibrahim Kamara was sitting in a steamy hotel room in West Africa not long ago, reflecting on a fleeting visit to Gambia, a country he once called home. Born in Sierra Leone in 1990, Mr. Kamara fled to nearby Gambia after civil war broke out, spending much of his childhood with an aunt and uncle before settling in London with his parents at 16.

After years away, Mr. Kamara, known to friends as I.B., had returned for a visit with the Senegalese photographer Malick Bodi . Mr. Kamara, now the stylist of choice for the likes of Virgil Abloh of Louis Vuitton men’s wear and Riccardo Tisci of Burberry, and recently named the editor of Dazed magazine, was in the process of retracing his past.

“I’ve been traveling by land and not air in Gambia for six days now, just driving through some of the places where I grew up and soaking it all in,” he said, hunching over his phone camera as a lazy ceiling fan chugged overhead. “How I tell fashion stories has been shaped so much by my early life here, from my community upbringing and being so close to nature to early memories of glimpses of Western magazines and pop videos. I’ve been wanting to come back for some time now. Too long, actually.”

Time is not something Mr. Kamara, 31, has had of late. In an industry where talented creative people can toil for years before their first big break, his trajectory from a Central Saint Martins fashion communications graduate to one of the most in-demand young stylists has been meteoric.

At a moment when Black representation in fashion remains a work in progress , Mr. Kamara’s distinctive voice — he first drew attention in 2016 with “2026,” a striking London exhibition that explored the changing nature of Black African masculinity on street-cast models in Soweto, South Africa — is upending conventional notions of how fashion can relate to race, gender and sexuality.

Currently he styles runway shows and advertising campaigns for top heritage houses like Burberry and Louis Vuitton men’s wear, as well as Erdem, and past clients include Stella McCartney and Dior. His work has appeared in British Vogue, Vogue Italia, System, W and i-D, where he was a senior editor at large. And in January of this year, Mr. Kamara was appointed editor in chief of Dazed, a quarterly youth culture magazine.

“An Ib Kamara comes along once in a generation,” said Mr. Abloh, for whom Mr. Kamara also styles Off-White collections. “His work is a prime example of how diversity can bring out the best of the fashion industry.” Beyond the Covers

Mr. Kamara’s work tends to flirt at the intersection of raw realism, pop culture tropes and the alternative realities he creates. Of his debut covers for Dazed, one spotlighted suited Nigerian activists holding their national flag; another showed a young Black man in a Gucci tracksuit and hightops receiving an injection under the tagline “Freedom Is Coming But Where Are We Going?” Inside, an […]

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