Scrolling through London-based fashion stylist Ibrahim Kamara’s Instagram feed is truly a visual treat. The creative has the ability to make his personal expression seem at home on others, creating incredible hybrids of classic cuts and statement pieces that are always cleverly accessorised with obscure objects. Pairing adidas shin pads and mesh with his enviable collection of salvaged hats, each unique look has its own story and character. By challenging Western conventions through the delicate mix of his Sierra Leone heritage and his own unique style, Kamara revealed to Fader Magazine that his styling aims to promote “the idea that you claim your space and fight back at least once in your life. I want black men, gay, straight, transgender, bi or whatever to fight back and express themselves.” By doing so, he leaves behind the notion of gendered clothing as well as gender itself, instead choosing to see his models as a canvas on which to work.
Kamara’s first venture into the world of art exhibitions was a break-out hit, with the Central Saint Martins graduate presenting his final project as part of “Utopia Voices, Here and Now” at Somerset House last summer. Collaborating with friend and hugely talented South African photographer Kristin Lee-Moolman, they created a series of photographs under the title “2026”. His costume-like styling is impeccable throughout. Speaking to Protein magazine on the series he said, “‘2026’ was very much my coming out story, after so long of hiding who I was. ‘2026’ is a celebration of just being yourself, and those are the things super important to my work.” From Kamara’s perspective, his work suggests that incorporating depth and matter into his projects is and should be far more important than pleasing the masses and conforming to the otherwise corporate side of the fashion world.
His fearless and distinctive way of styling is quickly cementing a permanent spot within the industry. The stylist recently showed his new “Coachie” project at Late at Tate, worked with Sampha on two projects and even collaborated with fashion giant Kenzo as the stylist for its “Gidi gidi bu ugwu eze (Unity is strength)” film/zine/exhibition project earlier this year. Centred around the idea of ceremony, Kamara, along with filmmaker Akinola Davies and photographer Ruth Ossai, produced a stunning video and images of the locals in the village of Nsukka, Nairobi.
The looks don’t carry the normal “androgynous” label the industry is so keen on throwing out. Instead, they offer an alternative form of self-expression and a beautiful merging of cultures, which is ultimately what makes Ibrahim stand out. His work is so unique and pushes such an important message with it, it begs the question of whether menswear could be the key in changing the single-tracked view of gender in western culture.