An image from Kenzo's "Gidi Gidi Bu Ugwu Eze – Unity is Strength" exhibit


KENZO’S KICKOFF: Following the launch of its first quarterly ‘zine Kenzo Folio last week, the brand has mounted an exhibition and pop-up space featuring a selection of images from the publication in London.

Kenzo co-creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim launched the brand’s quarterly featuring its collections through a series created with established and emerging image-makers. The 30-page issue features images of Kenzo’s spring collection, which was inspired by the culture and traditions of the indigenous Igbo community.

The community, based in Nsukka in southeast Nigeria, is seen through the eyes of U.K.-based Nigerians; the photographer Ruth Ossai, and the filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr. — aka Crack Stevens — in collaboration with the stylist Ibrahim Kamara.

Crack Stevens worked with Ossai and Kamara on the film and photo project which delved into the idea of “ceremony.” The trio highlighted the cultures, rites, rituals and ways of the Igbo.

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Leon described his work on the project as an “emotional experience” with amazing characters. “We really try to use different ways of communicating. Akinola Davies Jr. came up with this brilliant idea. The minute he told us we were sold. There is something just really authentic about it. Everything we’re trying to do, it has to be authentic and it has to have an original voice.”

He said that the brand has worked on numerous editorials and image-driven works in the past and published it online and felt that producing a print ‘zine was fitting. “As nerds and magazine collectors, I wanted something that you could pick up randomly 10 years from now and say, ‘Oh my God, remember this project?'” said Leon. “I love the idea of some people are taking this thing home tonight and stashing it in their bookshelves, and then rediscovering it years later.”

The next issue is due out this summer.

Housed in Kenzo’s Mayfair store on Bruton Street, the exhibition is titled “Gidi gidi bu ugwu eze — Unity is Strength” and features a series of works and a film from Ossai and Davies Jr. Ten images from the ‘zine are on display. Alongside the imagery is a six-minute film depicting village life with men and women driving around on motorcycles, having drinks and dancing to the tunes of a Nigerian band.

“It’s about celebrating young black Nigerian bodies and capturing them celebrating Igbo culture and traditions, said Davies Jr.

He said it’s also about “Nigerians telling their own stories, the nuances of beauty in relation to their own community. Family nurtures everything, and your community is your extended family. Utilizing one another and trusting in each other’s process.”

The exhibition will run in the London store until May 10. It is also on show at the Kenzo Paris store on Boulevard de la Madeleine, which runs until May 4.

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