Togetherness - NATAAL Digital Issue 2

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DIGITAL ISSUE 2

TOGETHERNESS



DIGITAL ISSUE 2

TOGETHERNESS



DIGITAL ISSUE 2

TOGETHERNESS



A MAGAZINE CELEBRATING GLOBAL AFRICAN VISUAL ART, FASHION, MUSIC & CULTURE

Digital Issue 2



WELCOME

We are together. That is our message for this second digital issue of Nataal magazine. As the global upheavals of the past year pulled so many of us apart, we want to focus on some of the things that can bring us close again. That might mean being physically together, sharing good food around a table or dancing as one to uplifting, healing music. Equally, it might mean actively creating a collective that unites energies and offers a home for like-minds to feel seen and heard. For this issue’s guest editor, Willy Ndatira, it means curating the work of five Black photographers whose practices naturally speak to themes of community. His special section is a clarion call for a renewed kinship that transgresses geographical, racial and social barriers to embrace the strengths that comes from ‘we’. It’s these messages that have always been at the heart of Nataal. We stand for diverse storytelling and bringing myriad voices and perspectives together to celebrate Africa’s creative community around the globe. As this issue attests, we are here for our community, and them for us. Love and hugs from Team Nataal x


Fresh from the Garden of Compton (2021) by Mous Lamrabat. Courtesy of Loft Art Gallery

WEST AFRICAʼS PREMIER INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR RETURNS JOIN THE SIXTH EDITION PHYSICAL FAIR: 4 – 7 NOV. 2021 THE FEDERAL PALACE

ONLINE FAIR: 4 – 21 NOV. 2021 ARTXLAGOS.COM


FRONT MATTER 3 7

WELCOME TEAM & CONTRIBUTORS

UPFRONT & FEATURES 8 TRASHY CLOTHING Introducing the queer Palestinian brand that’s disrupting more than one narrative

12 STEAM DOWN Meet the London collective spearheading the city’s new jazz scene

18 DEVOUR WITH RELISH London cooks Vidhi Gandhi and Makda Harlow invite us to supper

22 GENERATIONAL FILES Francesco Mbele and Siyabonga Mtshali spotlight Joburg’s young creative set

30 FIIRI AGENCY Mona Mohammed Ali is creating a home for diverse creatives in Scandinavia

FASHION & ART 42 64 CONTENTS

LA NOUVELLE VAGUE WILLY NDITIRA PRESENTS ‘THE LOVE WE SHARE’

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© King Owusu “Best Boy” Sweatshirt

JOYEUX STORE

Galerie Number 8 x Nataal LIMITED EDITION COLLECTION Visit galerienumber8.com


TEAM Founder ALASSANE SY

Creative Director MARIE GOMIS-TREZISE

Editorial Director HELEN JENNINGS

Design Direction BENJAMIN JOHNSTON & DELLANO PEREIRA AT THREE60

Contributing Editors AMBER NICOLE ALSTON BINWE ADEBAYO STÉPHANE GABOUÉ

Typeface Design HAAKON SPENCER & MATTHEW FENTON AT BRITISH STANDARD TYPE

Art Directors JOEL ANTOINE-WILKINSON PRECIOUS OPARA DELALI AYIVI ISABELA LIMA

Editorial Assistant BLESSING BORODE

CONTRIBUTORS Adam Jatta Köhlin, Adam Sheikh, Agnes Williams Fowler, Alexia Fiasco, Alizée Quitman, Amina Nurk, Anthony Karayan, Armand Mirpour, Aurele Ferrero, Aurore Gibrien, Beatrice Eni, Camille Tchuenko, Charlie Moore, Charlotte Manning, Chloe May Truong, Chris Rinke, Claire Laugeois, Elladj Lincy Deloumeaux, Eva Salam, Fabien Conti, Fay Bio-Toura, Fernando Torres, Florenti Marti, Francesco Mbele, Gwenaelle Wienners, Ida Njie, Jasmine Lundmark, Josué Comoe, Justin Keene, Kwabena Appiah-nti, Kyle Weeks, Josef Jatta Köhlin, Laetitia Gimenez, Leonne Faulks, Linus Soinjoki, Lise Breton, Louis Niermans, Maty Biayenda, Margreth Sallamba, Melissa Nerovique, Mona M Ali, Monzora Shaw, Nydia Blas, Oliver Looren, Remember You Were Made to be Used, Ruby Okoro, Said Abass Soule, Sainabou Chune, Salome Trezise, Sekou Camara, Siyabonga Mtshali, Tove Dalsrd, Valentina Di Luca, William Nditira, Wirawut Winkel, Xavier Scott Marshall, Yann Turchi, Yaw Tiëku

Managing Director SCOTT KRAENZLEIN

Design Assistant UDOCHUKWU EMEKAOKAFOR Covers FIIRI BY CHRIS RINKE. ALL WE NEED BY RUBY OKORO. GOLDEN BOYS BY KWABENA SEKYI APPIAH-NTI

Associate Editor MIRIAM BOUTEBA Social Media Editor XANTHE SOMERS

NATAAL ON SCREEN Visit us at nataal.com Follow us at @nataalmedia COPYRIGHT All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, reprinted or transmitted without permission from the publishers. Although the greatest care is taken to ensure all information contained in Nataal is accurate, neither the publisher nor the authors can accept responsibility for damage resulting from the use of this information. The views and opinions expressed in Nataal magazine are those of the contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. Every effort has been made to contact the copyright owners of the images and texts in this issue. Any copyright holders we have not reached, or to whom inaccurate acknowledgement has been made, are invited to contact us. Nataal magazine is published by Nataal Ltd. 92–96 De Beauvoir Road, London, N1 4EN For all enquiries: info@nataal.com

CONTRIBUTORS KYLE WEEKS

Kyle is a Namibian-born photographer based between Amsterdam and Cape Town. Whether shooting personal projects in Ghana and South Africa or editorials for Dazed and Self Surface, all of his work is dedicated to subverting photography’s normative standards. For this issue, Kyle shoots our Valentino story spotlighting six emerging visual artists in Paris.

FRANCESCO MBELE

Francesco is a multi-hyphenate South African artist who enjoys reading vintage magazines and fixing obscure cameras. For this issue, they give Joburg’s young generation an opportunity to speak about themselves in a space that doesn't alienate them; a film and shoot for the youth, by the youth.

LAËTITIA GIMENEZ ADAM

Laëtitia is a Paris-based fashion stylist, consultant and the fashion editor of Purple. Womanhood and femininity are her main sources of inspiration as her looks aim to celebrate the variances of the female body and spirit. She styles this issue’s Valentino story, La Nouvelle Vague.

BLESSING BORODE

Blessing is a music journalist from South London whose writing explores the stories of creatives in the UK. With credits including New Wave and Frontline magazines, she’s recently come on board as Nataal’s editorial assistant. For this issue she meets the new jazz collective Steam Down.

FERNANDO TORRES

Fernando is a Stockholm-based art director and stylist. Growing up with immigrant parents in Sweden, he has made it his mission to centre his work around themes of diversity and sustainability. For Nataal, he hails Fiiri model agency and its founder Mona M Ali’s quest to broaden representation in Scandinavia’s fashion industry.

AGNES WILLIAMS FOWLER

Agnes is a stylist and consultant based in Stockholm. Of Gambian and Nigerian descent, she now faces the challenges of raising a bi-racial son in Sweden’s non-inclusive society. This is something she wants to change by giving a voice and providing a stage to non-white Swedes through her creative work.

visit galerienumber8.com

TEAM & CONTRIBUTORS

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Introducing the queer Palestinian brand that’s disrupting more than one narrative Words MIRIAM BOUTEBA

tRASHY CLOTHING 8

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“Our existence is resistance” — Shukri Lawrence and Omar Braika


“A land without people for a people without land” — that was the zionist falsehood used to help found the state of Israel, or Occupied 48 as it’s otherwise known. Since the Nakba, which began in 1948, this propaganda has been propagated as Palestinian lives are erased, both literally and culturally, by settler colonial forces and their government. This is one of the reasons why Trashy Clothing is so vital. Existing, loudly and proudly, with a kaleidoscopic aesthetic that’s dripping in kitsch, it exists as a powerful rebuttal - a living, breathing, oh-so vibrant example of both Palestinian and Arab identities. The brainchild of Shukri Lawrence, born and raised in Jerusalem, Palestine, and Omar Braika, a Palestinian refugee born and raised in Amman, Jordan, the label is based between the two countries, with Braika unable to visit Palestine due to his refugee status. Since 2018, the duo has released seven erudite collections, all which have been produced locally as well as being shot and modelled by Middle Eastern talent. We spoke to them about the importance of community and how Trashy Clothing is upending all kinds of stereotypes.

MIRIAM BOUTEBA Can you tell us about your name? TRASHY CLOTHING The name is inspired by kitschy store names like 'Glam Lady' or 'Elegant Fashion' that are spread around different cities in the Arab region. It questions the fantasised beauty and luxury ideals in mainstream fashion, and ridicules capitalism and consumption; a luxury label named Trashy Clothing. MB How would you define ‘trashiness’? TC It is authentic, real, camp, careless, kitsch, and a creative overflow. It is contradicting and insightful. Our ethos is to believe fashion’s standards never existed. This pushes us to think outside of those rules. By bringing ‘otherness’ to high fashion while masked behind a satirical aesthetic, we're able to raise awareness of topics rarely discussed – a Trojan Horse effect. MB How do you use kitsch to disrupt the narrative? TC The elite can run the world in ways that are off-limits to their subjects but this hasn’t stopped those who societies

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TRASHY CLOTHING

seek to snuff out from ultimately becoming the makers of taste. As kitsch and 'bad taste' are part of our everyday life in the Middle East, it is important to respect and highlight it. The dominance of taste is a constant grapple between those who produce and those who would dictate the market of consumption. By creating juxtaposition with the aesthetics of different classes, mixing colours and fabrics, challenging gender performances, and radically bridging high and low culture, the contradictions of globalisation, class and gender are manifested in our label. MB What is your creative process? TC It depends on the collection, but when possible, we like to put ourselves in the locations that the collections reference. To live through it and consume as much from it as possible. Living in the Middle East we’re always finding inspiration around us, it could be the people in the streets or the architecture, even the music we hear all around. It’s our IRL moodboard. Watching films and music videos together is also important, as there’s always a common feeling we create that generates so much magic. We then sketch designs together, expanding on each piece. Having two perspectives is better than one because we can learn from each other’s experiences. MB Which other designers inspire you? TC Hushidar Mortezaie is an icon. His political cultural approach to fashion is so clever and gorgeously executed. We’re honoured to have collaborated on our AW20 collection with him. MB This issue is about community and togetherness - how does the brand respond to those ideas? TC We think collaborations are important when working on proper representation of our communities. To truly represent the SWANA region, we need to have all of its perspectives. This is why we frequently work on pieces or collections with different designers from the region. And last year we opened the Instagram account @trashy_files where we share our moodboards and references from Arab pop culture. It grew so much to the point where we would get submissions from our followers that are gold! In a way, our community is adding to our archives that we conceptualise from, which is beautiful. MB You also founded Cyber Fashion Week last year. TC Cyber Fashion Week is an international, sustainable and accessible digital fashion week combining the crossroads and intersections of fashion, music, photography, art and performance. We hosted over 80 creatives from around the world, introducing a new way to present collections sustainably. With an all-digital presentation, we were able to suggest a new accessible concept to the fashion industry that transcends passports and visas, reduces waste and limits our carbon footprint.

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MB

How have you been able to grow a community in the middle of the ongoing Nakba? TC In recent months, we’ve witnessed so much solidarity. Palestinians that have been geographically separated, united and resisted whichever way they were able to, which gave us so much hope. Everyone has put their differences aside and fought the same fight because at the end of the day we are all going through the same struggle. MB How important is queerness to your work? TC As queer designers, we rely on storytelling when designing, especially our own stories as queer Palestinians. It’s important to showcase how we fight for both our liberation and our rights as queer and Palestinian because the occupation

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uses both our identities against us to pinkwash and boost its tourism. MB The Palestinian struggle can be seen as analogous to the fight for independence in Algeria and that against Apartheid in South Africa. Do you feel kinship with these people? TC Definitely! Both liberations taught us so many lessons and ways to fight for ours. They showed us that liberation is possible and that there’s always hope. MB And how would you like people to express solidarity? TC By having conversations with family and friends, amplifying Palestinian voices, supporting Palestinian artists and businesses, or even reposting updates in Palestine. Solidarity to Palestinians can come in so many different ways, for us the most important thing is to

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recognise us. As our existence is resistance. MB What does the future hold for Trashy Clothing? TC We’re currently preparing for our upcoming AW21 collection which will be an online runway show. We are also planning on beginning to stock our collections in stores internationally. As the message of Trashy expands, we hope to have people become aware of the Palestinian struggle from an experiencebased satirical approach.

Listen to TRASHY CLOTHING’S Spotify playlist for NATAAL here. Visit TRASHY CLOTHING here.

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STEAM Getting to know the jazz collective bringing healing vibrations from London to the world Words BLESSING BORODE

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London’s current jazz scene is being revolutionised by a new breed of musicians who are radically shifting the way this genre is experienced and perceived. Blurring the lines between spectator and performer, ideas like oneness and unity are forming in clubs across the capital. Head to Matchstick Piehouse in Deptford, South East London on a Wednesday night and you’ll find yourself at the epicentre of an expanding community. Steam Down is a weekly event and a collective of musicians, singers, poets and MCs devoted to providing a space for release and transformation through music. In exploration of their African roots and London’s subcultures, the sonics of Steam Down veer between grime, afrobeat, punkpsychedelia and neo-soul, attracting a diverse audience who are looking to offload their stresses. Piercing saxophone wails, an eruption of call and response mantras and palpitating West African rhythms controls a sea of writhing bodies, an experience founding bandleader Ahnansé describes to me as “spontaneous magic, a moment where we don’t know what we’re going to be creating on stage and nobody in the audience knows either.” The musicians who perform at Steam Down weeklies, among them Benjamin Appiah, Doom Cannon, Afronaut Zu and Tinyman, have all cut their teeth on the live circuit, equipping them with the know-how to create a genuine connection with their guests. “No ordinary musicians are part of the project; they’ve all spent years working on their craft and learning how to improvise,” Ahnansé says. “The event is created from knowing how to have a conversation with each other on stage. We’re public speakers but through our instruments.” Ahnansé is keen to point out that Steam Down has no room for pretentious attitudes, either on stage or off. Before a session begins, with the help of some regulars who know the ropes, Ahnansé lays out a few guidelines that attendees must abide by in order to unlock the full healing potentials of the evening. Firstly, if you want to talk, go outside. Secondly, treat everyone with respect and lastly, make sure you’re here to enjoy yourselves. “That whole statement is just to bring everybody’s energy into a central point to

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“It’s about bringing everybody’s energy into a central point to make sure people can enjoy feeling the emotions that heal us” make sure people can enjoy feeling the emotions that heal us, you know.” Last year was tumultuous for us all, shuttering the UK’s live music venues and bringing political unrest to the surface. Some musicians used the time for an extended pause, others scrambled to find new ways to lean into their community through virtual platforms. Even as the world opens up, musicians are now having to reshape what it looks like to be a performing artist amid a pandemic. “It’s no different with Steam Down, we’re still figuring out how to find our feet but I’d say the powerful thing for us is that we have a regular space to come and be together. To be there every week in a time when there’s been so many ups and downs for a lot of creatives, has been a real saving grace for us.”

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Since their conception in 2017, Steam as it did and the UK jazz scene exploding when it seems like there's no end. I think Down have grown from small local venues is also what helped us move as fast as we we’re past that now but it was important to major festivals across the world, received did,” he muses. for me that this project fits with the time.” two Jazz FM Awards and had Kamasi And now the band have finally delivered Staple Steam Down anthems ‘Can’t Washington pop in for an evening session. their debut EP ‘Five Fruit’. Housing a short Hold Me Back’ and ‘Free My Skin’ featuring In the process, they have become an collection of sounds and lyrics that aim Afronaut Zu, Tinyman and Shumba Maasai influential force in the UK jazz scene along- to target the spirit and aid emotional trans- also make it onto the EP. Elsewhere ‘Untie’ side the likes of Tomorrow’s Warriors, formation, the project was also partially is led by the delicate tones of Lady Shaynah, Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia, Ezra shaped by the pandemic. The lead track who urges for gentleness when overcoming Collective and more. I wonder if Ahnansé ‘Empower’ surges with uplifting affirmations difficult situations, and the title track is always intended for Steam Down to make layered over frantic percussions. “We’re all about being open to exploring the journey such an impact. “Making records and in a time where people are a bit depressed, of the whole EP. As for where to play touring was always a part of the plan. we’ve been locked in and need a sense of this record, Ahnansé has a suggestion. I don’t think that I saw it happening as fast empowerment to get through it, especially “If you’re listening to ‘Five Fruit’ maybe sit down and chill in your bath with some incense and set the mood, then you will probably get more out of it.” The band are now embarking on their UK tour in November, which will no doubt grow their dedicating following along the way. But for him, nothing beats the intimacy of their home crowd. “There’s been so many of our weekly nights where it felt like the audience and the band have become one. There’s a level of being comfortable when it feels like home. So, when the special things happen in your own house it can be life changing.” STEAM DOWN’S ‘FIVE FRUIT’ EP is out now on DECCA. Discover it here. Photography KAROLINA WIELOCHA, Styling LADY BARBARA AYOZIE FU SAFIRA

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“If you’re listening to ‘Five Fruit’ maybe sit down and chill in your bath with some incense and set the mood”

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DEVOUR WITH RELISH Vidhi Gandhi

of Good Chaat and Makda Harlow of Lemlem Kitchen invite us to supper

Film CHARLIE MOORE Photography JUSTIN KEENE Words HELEN JENNINGS FEATURE

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“What we’re doing is building bridges through heritage, food and culture, and that’s why I love to be in London” The red wine is flowing gently. The conversation is equal parts intimate and convivial. The mid-summer sunlight is falling in shards across a chequered tablecloth, upon which sits morsels of Dahi batata puri and Afro tacos. Welcome to Vidhi Gandhi and Makda Harlow’s very special supper club for Nataal. Hosted in Gandhi’s south London home, the two women have invited a mix of friends old and new to come and relish some of their moreish signature plates. Gandhi and Harlow, the former working in music management, the latter with a background in fashion retail, met five years ago and were instantly drawn together through their mutual love of telling stories through food. Since then, Gandhi has followed her passion and launched Good Chaat, a supper club offering her take on Indian snack food. “Chaat literally translates to ‘licking your plate’, from the Sanskrit word cātnā, because everyone who eats it wants to lick their plate afterward,” Gandhi explains. “You have a fried crispy bread that you top with chilli-coriander-mint chutney, tamarind chutney and sweetened yogurt and embellish with anything you want. I stuffed mine with mung beans and added cucumber and pickled onions. Then you eat it all in one bite. If you were in India at chai time (5pm), you’d be stood in front of the street vendor with a palm leaf plate, and it’s a race whether you can eat it sooner than the vendor can make you the next one!” Similarly, Harlow has established LemLem Kitchen, a street food stall-turnedrestaurant infusing classic Eritrean flavours into staples such as wings and fries. Her signature is Hilbet — a disc of injera korosho (crisped fermented flatbread) topped with a cream of fava beans, lentils and fenugreek and silsi, a berbere-spiced tomato sauce. The pandemic forced both cooks to pause their endeavours and, like most of us, they were left yearning to come together to laugh and love over good food once again. So, this evening, their first time ever devising a menu together, is not only an exploration of how Indian and Eritrean cooking compliment and influence each other, but is also a long overdue communal feast. “Tonight is the story of London, more than Bombay or Asmara,” says Harlow. “What we’re doing here is building bridges through heritage, food and culture, and that’s why I love to be in this city. It’s why we have to encourage the next generation to believe that their identity is their own individual experience. This rollercoaster of life is both good and bad so to have the

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opportunity to share a dish and spread the word is a blessing on its own.” Join us by watching this film where Gandhi and Harlow explain the origins and flavours behind their fusion recipes, all inspired by their mother’s home cooking (hello Priti and Elsa!) and their journeys from their birth homes to the UK. Visit GOOD CHAAT here. Visit LEMLEM KITCHEN here. Listen to VIDHI GANDHI’S SPOTIFY playlist for NATAAL here.

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GENERATIONAL FILES Photographer Francesco Mbele and designer Siyabonga Mtshali spotlight Joburg’s young creative set

Photography & Film FRANCESCO MBELE Styling SIYABONGA MTSHALI Words MIRIAM BOUTEBA 22

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“My biggest inspiration is myself, literally. I don't even know how I did what I did” — Elsa Majimbo


To believe that there is a singular voice of a generation is, of course, an absurdity. South African photographer Francesco Mbele knows this, which is why he gathered together a wide-ranging group of rule-breaking talents from Nairobi and Joburg to create this intimate visual journal. Generational Files features comedian Elsa Majimbo (who has amassed over 2.4million Instagram followers in little over a year thanks to her braggadocious skits) alongside visual artist Muofhe Manavhela, model and DJ Pona Halo and other bright young creatives. All are dressed in pieces by Siyababa Atelier — a label from Siyabonga Mtshali offering ‘gqom luxury apparel’ — as they lay bare their inspirations, beliefs and personal journeys so far. “I believe that it’s essential that the youth tell their own stories and so with this project, we wanted to facilitate a platform for us, by us. The entire team was under 23 years old,” says Mbele, whose signature lo-fi style captures the line-up in a cosy living room setting. “I wanted to shoot it like an old school confessional tape but make it affectionate and warm at the same time by recording everything on analogue equipment.” Mtshali believes that he and his peers are at a turning point in 2021. “We are trying to create more diversity within cultural expression. So, the cast in this project is a reflection of what Siyababa Atelier looks to represent,” he says. From model and artist Farah Dindar engulfed in a huge black bow to student Msangambe Sigudla in cowboy hat-to-toe zebra print, this flamboyant label is pioneering a new African avant-garde with its fearless silhouettes and daring proportions. “Being a queer person of colour has meant that spaces where we can excel and find ourselves in are lacking so I hope this project gives these artists something they will be able to look back on and evaluate their growth,” Mtshali adds. “This generation has a deep and great emphasis on selfexpression. The entire cast excels in pushing their forward-thinking creativity and their presence here showcases that.”

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“Growing up in Johannesburg builds a certain form of resilience, a certain level of tough skin, hustle and streetwise” — Pona Halo

“My biggest inspirations are my friends. Just seeing them exist freely gives me so much joy and they push me to the best version of myself” — Nqobile ‘Q’ Sigudla FEATURE

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“Express yourself in the best way you can and don't take critique from anyone you can't call family” — Msangambe Sigudla

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“I am first and foremost willing to fight for Black women” — Muofhe Manavhela Photography assistance XHANTI ZWELELENDABA, Styling assistance GLEN GUILHERME, Studio LEVI’S HAUS OF STRAUSS. Cast MSANGAMBE SIGUDLA, GEORGIE SAYEGH, PONA HALO, FARAH DINDAR, MPUMELELO MOFOKENG, ELSA MAJIMBO, ROTONDWA MUOFHE MANAVHELA, THATO ‘MELO’ PIENAAR, NQOBILE ‘Q’ SIGUDLA, LESEGO ATONG, THAPELO MOLEFE

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More than a model agency, Mona Mohammed Ali is creating a home for diverse creatives in Scandinavia Photography CHRIS RINKE Creative Direction FERNANDO TORRES

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“Fiiri means ‘to look’ or ‘to see’ in Somali, and that is what we’re about — demanding that we see all the people who are usually under represented and ignored.” So says Mona Mohammed Ali of Fiiri, Scandinavia’s first diverse model and talent agency. “We’re not just an agency, we’re a community. That’s the key thing — we are friends, we support each other, we love each other, and it feels good to be part of that.” Ali only established Fiiri a year ago in Stockholm and yet she’s already expanded across the region, garnered international press and been appointed Vogue Scandinavia’s diversity and inclusion editor. All thanks to her unstoppable dedication to supporting individuals from every minority ethnicity, background and ability — both in front of and behind the camera. Ali’s own story makes her a positive role model for those she now supports. Born in Somalia during civil war, her family were forced to flee, first to Saudi Arabia, then Kenya before four-year-old Ali and her elder brother were sent to join their aunt in Norrköping, Sweden. “We experienced a lot of racism. People crossed the street when they saw us and put explosives in our mailbox. At school kids would say that if I took my headscarf off, they’d stop bullying me,” she remembers. “It was difficult to be a young Muslim woman but I learnt that the angrier you get, the more controlled you become. I refused to believe that I should simply be grateful to be alive and that this life was all I was supposed to be.” By the time she was reunited with her parents in Norway aged 13, she decided to follow her dreams to study fashion and received a scholarship for Regent’s University in London. For the next decade she tried her hand at everything — styling, production, modelling, marketing and talent management — before leaving the UK and relocating to Stockholm in 2019. “There is still a lot of segregation here and so I wanted to do something to change mindsets and culture,” she recalls. “I pitched myself to all the agencies, offering to help them with the models of colour on their boards but no one showed any interest, so I had to set up my own agency.” After an intense period of networking and research, she set up the business, started casting via Instagram and found her first faces. She was soon invited to Copenhagen Fashion Week and word of mouth has spread her good work ever since. Coinciding with the global Black Lives Matter protests last year, which highlighted the urgent need for Fiiri, Ali advises clients on the importance of thinking beyond the models to also booking diverse hair and make-up artists who understand their needs, as well as stylists, photographers and art directors too. Likewise for Vogue, she produces shoots that extends her mission to celebrate different cultures and give creatives financial stability.

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Fiiri also offers mentorship opportunities to young talents by helping them make industry connections. “So many people have helped me and inspired me so it’s nice to be in a position where I can put others in spaces where they can ask and they might just get. I’ve asked all my life but not everyone has the confidence. I tell people, you might feel the world is against you but the only one who can put in the work is you.” Despite these gains, there’s still a long way to go in Scandinavia to get beyond performative allyship, meaning Fiiri’s work has only just begun. “I don’t want people working with us because they think they have to, or believing that they’ve booked a few Black girls and solved the issue. We need to be actively anti-racist and companies have to fix their own representation,” she asserts. “It’s not enough to just have people of colour helping each other, either. Everyone needs to create opportunities. I’m just trying to focus on what I can do to make change.” This uplifting shoot celebrates the Fiiri family in Stockholm and we hear the cast's perspective on what Ali’s agency means to them. Visit Fiiri here. (Previous top left to right) ARMAND wears coat by AAJIYA, t-shirt by SIMONE ROCHA. SAID wears shirt and tracksuit by DIEMONDE. AMINA wears suit by NAND, jewellery by CAROLINE SVEDBOM. IDA wears coat by SELAM FESSAHAYE. MARGRETH wears suit by AAJIYA. CHARLOTTE wears coat by AAJIYA. (Middle left to right) JOSEF wears suit by CDLP, trainers by BALENCIAGA.MONA wears blazer by SELAM FESSAHAYE, boots by NIKLAS GUSTAVSSON, sunglasses by TOM FORD. ADAM wears suit by CDLP, trainers by BALENCIAGA. (Front) EVA wears suit by NAND, trainers by ADIDAS. (On spread) MONA wears dress by MARTE STENSRUD, shoes by EYTYS.

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“We’re not just an agency, we’re a community”

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Adam and Josef Jatta Köhlin

“Finding pride in who you are and where you come from is a struggle. So seeing people that look like yourself, thriving in their skin and killing the game can truly be life changing. Fiiri is creating a community of people that exudes confidence, beauty and pride.”

ADAM wears suit by SELAM FESSAHAYE, trainers by BALENCIAGA. JOSEPH wears suit by SELAM FESSAHAYE, trainers by BALENCIAGA.

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Charlotte Manning

“Signing to Fiiri was a commitment I made to myself to show up for my people, to expand my comfort zone, to feel represented in the fashion industry, and to feel empowered within a group of people who care deeply about humanity and social change.”

CHARLOTTE wears dress by JADE CROPPER, necklace by SAGA MELINA, rings by HVORSLEV, vintage heels.

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Amina Nurk

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Armand Mirpour

“Fiiri shines a spotlight on the underrepresented. Creatives and models being brought into a fold that couldn't or wouldn't see them before. Every job we do feels like a step forward. I've made friends for life here, all of us brought together by our stories and our past.” (Opposite) AMINA wears suit by NIKLAS GUSTAVSSON, trainers by ADIDAS. (Above) ARMAND wears suit by TIGER OF SWEDEN, vintage blouse, own boots.

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Said Abass Soule

“We are family, we inspire each other, and I really hope that we inspire others like us to not think that a colour, a gender or a sexual orientation is a reason for you to be unseen. We all deserve to love ourselves.”

SAID wears jacket and trousers by STOCKHOLM SURFBOARD CLUB, shirt by DEMONDE, trainers by ADIDAS. (Opposite) EVA wears earrings by SÄGEN, blazer, body and tights by AAJIYI, trainers by ADIDAS.

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Eva Salam

“Being part of an agency that represents diversity is important to me as a model as well as my fellow POC out there in the world, since it is creating inclusiveness that is needed in a much-divided world.”

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Ida Njie


Margreth Sallamba

“Fiiri shows a broader view. I feel that’s very liberating to see all forms, sizes and colours. More Black representation is something that warms my heart. The beauty standard in Scandinavia is now evolving and Fiiri is a step in the right direction.”

(Opposite) IDA wears full look by AAJIYA. (Above) MARGRETH wears earrings by CAROLINE SVEDBOM, suit dress by MARTE STENSRUD, trainers by ADIDAS. Styling AGNES WILLIAMS FOWLER, Styling assistance MONZORA SHAW, WIRAWUT WINKEl, Hair SAINABOU CHUNE, Hair assistance TOVE DALSRD, Make-up JASMINE LUNDMARK, Make-up assistance VALENTINA DI LUCA, Set design LINUS SOINJOKI, Words HELEN JENNINGS, Models AMINA NURK, ADAM JATTA KÖHLIN, ARMAND MIRPOUR, CHARLOTTE MANNING, EVA SALAM, IDA NJIE, JOSEF JATTA KÖHLIN, MARGRETH SALLAMBA, MONA M ALI, SAID ABASS SOULE

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In this collaborative story, six emerging visual artists from Paris wear catwalk looks from Valentino’s AW21 collection Photography KYLE WEEKS Styling LAETITIA GIMENEZ

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Created in collaboration with and all Valentino clothing and Valentino Garavani accessories available from FARFETCH. Shop Women and Men

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Nataal has teamed up with FARFETCH and Valentino to celebrate a new generation of visual artists in Paris. This community of agenda-setting talents — whose work addresses themes as diverse as identity, gender, the environment and spirituality — are invigorating the city’s creative scene. Here they wear catwalk looks from Valentino’s AW21 collection set against a brutalist landscape. Brought together, these new wave talents and their art pieces speak to the brand’s radical direction for the season. Abbreviated lengths, clean and cocooned shapes and fine details such as a cut-out diamond motif across knitwear express a poetic punk attitude. As Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli pushes the house’s romantic codes into new territory that feels at once minimal and sensual, these artists likewise take us into the frontier.

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Josué Comoe


Alizée Quitman


Elladj Lincy Deloumeaux


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Fabien Conti


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Meet the artists

ALEXIA FIASCO Alexia Fiasco was drawn to photography as a way to create an archive of Black lives that she felt was missing, both in the public and personal sphere. Studying at Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin before returning to Paris, her ongoing body of work, The Denial, employs a fictional documentary style to imagine the memories her non-existent family photo album could have contained. “My father is from Cape Verde but he left for Paris when he was 13 and raised me with no history of my roots. So, two years ago I decided to go to Cape Verde to meet my family. After two months of getting to know them, we built a family album from the stories that they told me.” Fiasco is also co-founder of Fille De Blédards, a collective of artists creating a space for work by women artists from minority backgrounds. Visit Alexia Fiasco here.

(Top to bottom) The Denial, photography by ALEXIA FIASCO. Untitled, ceramic by ALIZÉE QUITMAN

ELLADJ LINCY DELOUMEAUX Guadeloupe-born painter Elladj Lincy Deloumeaux is still studying at Beaux-Arts de Paris and yet has already enjoyed his first major solo with Cécile Fakhoury gallery in Abidjan. His portraits exude a softness and sense of nostalgia that reflects his deep empathy with his subjects, who appear deep in thought or simply going about their daily lives. “My Caribbean heritage and African roots inspire me a lot and I have done much research into cosmogony and spirituality,” he says.

ALIZÉE QUITMAN Multi-disciplinary artist Alizée Quitman studied at L'École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de La Cambre in Brussels before recently establishing herself in Paris. Her experimental practice addresses the body with recent works delving into human organs as a way explore our

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obsession with outward appearances. “I want to make space for the body through installation, sculpture, performance and jewellery,” she says. “I often use science fiction to talk about subjects, such as gender, identity and future technology. I also look at the origins of my father, who is from Martinique.” Her jewellery, recently worn by Kelsey Lu, is made from old cutlery and other upcycled metal objects that she melts into organic forms. “I’ve been making jewellery for women to wear to defend themselves. It looks chic and soft but can be put on the neck or face and act like a knuckle duster.” Visit Alizée Quitman here.

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Meet the artists

MATY BIAYENDA “My art has always been about who I am and the different path that I’ve been finding for myself. I’m trying to define my femininity and where I come,” says Maty Biayenda of her introspective practice. Born in Namibia to Congolese and French parents, she grew up painting and illustrating and is currently studying textile design at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. Drawing on inspirations as far reaching as Impressionism, noughties R&B and the films of Djibril Diop Mambéty, she creates her own interpretation of Black beauty across toile de jouy-like cloths. Her women look super fly whether riding a horse, pole dancing or gossiping on the phone. And as her engrossing Instagram feed reveals, Biayenda also takes style seriously. “What you wear can impact how you feel. It can empower you, or you can dress in a way that has a story to tell,” she reveals. “My Valentino look is very graphic and it almost makes me feel like a statue, like an art piece.” Visit Maty Biayenda here.

“People are made of many complex and plural layers, so that's the way I try to work. My paintings bring together familial, matrimonial, spiritual and symbolic references.” As the artist’s star rises, the Paris art scene is also opening up to him. “There's a very ebullient youth in Paris,” he adds. “It’s important for me to make connections with other artists here. It brings richness and experience and feeds into the great energy of the city.” Visit Elladj Lincy Deloumeaux here.

(Top left to bottom right) Aika, marker and oil on paper by ELLADJ LINCY DELOUMEAUX. Buy Back The Block, guache on paper by MATY BIAYENDA. ATARAXIE, oil on canvas by FABIEN CONTI.

FABIEN CONTI Fabien Conti’s large-scale paintings of foreboding scenes of nature ask the viewer to consider their own complicity in the global climate crisis. “I hope they are meditative works reflecting a human tragedy, both predicted and observed, creating landscapes with an atmosphere that is tempestuous yet calm,” he says. The Beaux-Arts de Paris student often uses gradients of colour to recreate a windswept atmosphere, the skies ranging from dark blacks to blood reds. As for his Valentino look, it resonates with his appreciation of minimalism. “I enjoy fashion and I appreciate wearing these beautiful pieces. I have a few Valentino items in my wardrobe and what I love about them is that they’re simple, artistic and have great details.” Visit Fabien Conti here.

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Meet the artists JOSUÉ COMOE Of Ivorian and Ghanaian descent, Josué Comoe began modelling in Paris aged 16 and has since found his voice as an artist with exhibitions across France. “I learnt a lot about creativity through modelling and it gave me a way of seeing,” he recalls. “In my paintings and drawings now, my compositions and use of space stem from all of these experiences. For me, art and fashion are the same thing, it’s living.” His portraiture uses geometry and the interplay between dark and light to create a visual language that imagines the invisible. “It’s about transcendence through space and time, it’s about the spiritual path. I believe that spirituality is what brings us all together in the same circle, so my works are a way to find a visual code that can set us free.” As such, Valentino’s AW21 monochrome looks speak to him. “I usually wear black and white because it seems simple but then makes you look again. Even though black is not a colour, there is everything in the black, it can be political. And when you wear black and white, it makes you feel strong as well as vulnerable because of the duality. In that way, it’s like art.” Visit Josué Comoe here.

La Sajda, acrylic on card by JOSUÉ COMOE.

Creative direction MARIE GOMIS-TREZISE. Film direction REMEMBER YOU WERE MADE TO BE USED. Hair YANN TURCHI. Make-up AURORE GIBRIEN. Nails BEATRICE ENI. Set design LEONNE FAULKS. Words HELEN JENNINGS. Photography assistance AURELE FERRERO, CHLOE MAY TRUONG, ANTHONY KARAYAN. Digital operation OLIVER LOOREN. Film assistance FLORENTI MARTI, SEKOU CAMARA. Film sound FX093, Art direction PRECIOUS OPARA, DELALI AYIVI. Styling assistance LISE BRETON. Make-up assistance CLAIRE LAUGEOIS, FAY BIO-TOURA. Hair assistance MELISSA NEROVIQUE, CAMILLE TCHUENKO. Set design assistance LOUIS NIERMANS, GWENAELLE WIENNERS. Production FARAGO. Brand Partnerships SCOTT KRAENZLEIN.

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XX XX THE LOVE

WE SHARE Guest editor Willy Ndatira curates five photographers whose work represents community, family and togetherness Curation WILLIAM NDTIRA Words XANTHE SOMERS Film BILAL BASHIR 64

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Guest Editor, Willy Ndatira

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This issue’s guest editor is Willy Ndatira aka William Cult — designer, creative consultant and co-founder of the experimental fashion collective CULT.11AD, with clients including Gucci, AnOther and Fantastic Man. For Nataal he has put together a curation of images from five photographers situated across three continents whose work is rooted in the themes of community, family and togetherness. The global upheavals of the past year have brought into sharp focus the gravity of community. This selection is a celebration of what it is to witness the power that radiates from the presence of others. Raw from our recent states of separation, we need to retaliate in equal measure with a renewed kinship — the ‘us, we, them’ is what these photographers explore. Watch the short introductory film by Ndatira before discovering their work in this special section of the magazine. FEATURE

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Nydia Blas “Togetherness is an act of beauty. A feeling. Togetherness can happen after accomplishing a difficult task with a partner or co-worker. A feeling of resolution after a disagreement with a close friend. It, me, you, us, sometimes them,” reflects Nydia Blas in response to our theme. Assistant professor in the Department of Art and Visual Culture at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, her personal practice addresses sexuality, intimacy and her lived experience as a Black woman and mother. Blas views community as a call to action. “Communities can work together. Communities can be collectively and purposely marginalised, speak back, burn things down,” she explains. “Communities can rise up and speak words of peace and anger. Communities can spit you out and then welcome you home.” These sentiments are seen in her poignant images whose subjects’ gaze confronts you in reclamation.

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Ruby Okoro Nigerian visual artist and portrait photographer Ruby Okoro examines the complex relationship between the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba people in this series, All We Need. “This project is intended to shed light on the toxic nature of what our relationships have become as different ‘sets’ of people held together by the same borders,” he explains. “We feed off each other’s shortcomings in a bid to feel superior when in reality we need to be whole. Freely giving, freely receiving, togetherness.” This melting pot of people is presented through images of three young men in nature, beckon closeness, intimacy and kinship.

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Salomé Trezise Currently studying at University of the Arts London, Salomé Trezise presents Dysfunctional Families. The series spotlights the negative typecasts consistently associated with Black families. The French-Senegalese-British artist’s work is an ode to the chaos that exists within familial structures and how these come to define us. “Family is an essential support system,” she states. “The warm and comforting feeling of knowing that regardless of outside circumstances, you and your loved ones form a united and tight knit front.” Trezise’s work is a reminder that ‘family’ can be defined in plural and porous forms, which take many forms.

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Kwabena Sekyi Appiah-Nti Belgian-Ghanaian artist Kwabena Sekyi Appiah-Nti defines togetherness as “safety.” In his first years as an image-maker, Sekyi became intent on photographing individuals who live on the fringes of society, often negatively perceived or stereotypically portrayed; the “underdogs,” he calls them. His lens most often lands on young Black men, as seen in his ongoing series Golden Boys and recently released the photo book Sika Kokoo, a visual ode to Ghana. Here we see his poetic images delivered in a palette of inviting tones that radiate a hazy softness, showcasing his subjects in an idealised and dignified way.

YAW TIËKU at THE MOVEMENT MODELS

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Xavier Scott Marshall Trinidadian-American artist Xavier Scott Marshall presents a series of portraits created in close collaboration with Ndatira, Scott Marshall’s mentor, as a response to the theme of this issue. His obsession with image-making began at a very young age, stealing his mother’s camera to take pictures around the house. He later landed an internship with Steven Klein and at only 22, the trailblazer opened his first studio, securing his status as a photographer-to-watch. “These images are an expression of contemporary Blackness, but in a real way. Not just focused on Black models or Black hair, but on everyday people who are not considered beautiful by today’s standards of Blackness,” Scott Marshall explains of his motivation behind this project. The artist believes photography can be transactional and voyeuristic, so for this shoot he wanted something richer. He decided to street-cast people he met in his neighbourhood of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, where the artist has spent the majority of his life. “Most of the people were shocked that I wanted to take their picture, thinking they were not conventionally attractive,” he remarks. Through getting to know his subjects, each portrait led onto the next, weaving a visual narrative linking image to image, and person to person. “People together is not the same as togetherness. Togetherness is being interwoven with the space you reside in,” he concludes.

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Photography RUBY OKORO


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