Our new #StellaBy collaboration is set in Nigeria and told through the lens of photographer Nadine Ijewere. In the second part of the series, we catch up with IB Kamara who styled our womenswear and menswear collections on the shoot, blurring the lines with his instinctive, travelling and eclectic eye.
Through his styling, IB looks to explore and push boundaries, often drawing on inspirations and conversations from his African heritage and today’s youth culture. IB grew up in Sierra Leone and moved to London as a teenager, eventually graduating from Central Saint Martins. As we talk to him we begin to get an understanding of the influences behind his styling in Nadine’s captivating images.
IB, you grew up in Sierra Leone. Did your upbringing influence your work and your creative eye?
Yes, my upbringing plays a big part in my work. I grew up watching CNN and BBC and have always wanted to challenge ideas in my work – I had no access to cartoons or kids fiction so had to create my own in my head.
How was it moving to London?
It was odd at first but I liked it. I felt like I could be myself a lot more and it was up to me to make something out of my life.
Nadine tells us that you both go way back. We’d love to know more…
My dearest Nadine and I started working together when we were in our teens. She was the first photographer I worked with and we have collaborated over the years – she is like a sister to me.
What did you want to reveal in the styling of this shoot?
For me it’s about celebrating hidden sides of these beautiful youths. It’s about youths that are not defined by the environment they are in. That idea of New Africa; the Africa that is building its own subculture however small. The Africa that is open to conversation and open to new creative expression.
You styled male models in our womenswear collection – was this about exploring identity?
It was about making these boys look good in the clothing. As long as they feel great then a dress becomes just a dress; they are working the dress and not the other way around. They were all very comfortable in the looks and I hope this experience changes the way they look at clothing and expression.
Do you often blur the lines with clothing in your styling?
I approach styling really as an expression of the person I am working with – and most of the time the characters I would love to be. So it’s more about pushing the person out of their comfort zone.
What did it mean to be shooting in Nigeria – did it influence the styling at all?
It meant I had the opportunity to work with beautiful young talent with great minds and a wider view of the world. The culture influenced the styling as I picked out aspects of day-to-day Nigerian living.
You once put on an exhibition called 2026. Does the future inspire you creatively?
2026 was in a way ideas that had been playing on my mind for years and I wanted to express those into images. These were things I aspired to as a child but was unable to find the visual reference. The idea of having an imagination about the future inspires me.
What is most exciting about London’s fashion scene and how does that feed into your work?
London has a diversity like no other city. You can come here and be accepted which is beautiful. You can learn from all cultures and there is no right or wrong to creativity. Seeing beautiful work inspires me – most of my friends are putting on shows, making films and music. Going to club nights like PDA inspires me – the music, the looks and having conversations with creatives.
Does clothing have the power to move or change people, even?
I think it does have the power but also the people wearing the clothing become the vessel of that change.