Directed by Akinola Davies Jr and styled by Ib Kamara, this enchanting short film from French fashion house Kenzo offers a glimpse into the culture of one of Nigeria’s Igbo communities, Nsukka. Part of the brand’s latest campaign called Unity Is Strength – or Gidi gidi bu ugwu eze – the six and a half minute long video serves as a showcase of their SS17 collection and as well as a documentation of Nigerian youth culture.
An offshoot of Kenzo’s new ‘folio project’ – an electronic publication produced by the brand that will feature all its new collections – the Unity Is Strength campaign features a cast of Nigerian locals found in schools, churches, markets and other public spaces in and around the town. Including accompanying images shot by Nigerian-born photographer Ruth Ossai, these provide a closer look at the fashion house’s breathtaking garments.
Following a troupe of young Nigerian women and men ahead of a local beauty pageant, the campaign film captures an authentic perspective of a culture often excluded from the narratives of high fashion. As the camera follows a selection of young, street-cast models getting their hair done, wearing pageant sashes and riding motorcycles around the town, viewers are exposed to the distinct approach to fashion and beauty unique to the country’s youth.
Reflecting on what it means to be young and Nigerian, the film’s focus upon beauty standards and representation of African women lends the narrative a powerful theme of identity. Director Davies describes it as the celebration of ‘young black Nigerian bodies (by) capturing them celebrating Igbo culture and traditions, showing that beauty is always present when there is a commitment to the celebration of culture.’
Watch the entire film above.