The big picture: challenging fashion stereotypes

Nadine Ijewere grew up in Peckham in south-east London and until she picked up a camera in sixth form she planned to study medicine. By die skool, there was a darkroom where she could process film and the excitement of watching the colours of her first rolls come to life changed her career path and won her a place at the London College of Fashion. At weekends, she and friends would get suitcases full of clothes from their wardrobes and drag them to the local park to dress up and have fun; she was the designated photographer. Within a few years, she was much in demand, shooting a campaign for Stella McCartney in Lagos, seeing some of her pictures of siblings exhibited at Tate Britain; in 2018, aged only 26, she made headlines as the first woman of colour to shoot a cover for Vogue, with a photograph featuring Dua Lipa and celebrating “the future”.

Ijewere took this image for the Wall Street Journal'S WSJ. Magazine in 2019, in a fashion feature devoted to the spring dress. Its energy is typical of her work, which is collected in a new monograph called Our Own Selves. The photos demonstrate her commitment to cheerfully exploding any narrow ideas of beauty that the fashion industry still clings to. Interviewed for her book, Ijewere talks about how, “when I started exploring photography in the magazines I’d flick through, I would think to myself, ‘Well…’ I never saw anyone that really looked like my friends or anyone I could relate to in those images. If they were people of colour or Black women, they were all light-skinned and had European features. If they had curly hair, it was blow-dried straight to match the white women. None of my friends really looked like that.”

She is on a mission to put that right.




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