It all started with a series of posta images of a young black man with an original and vibrant look, both futuristic and retro. The image was shared on Instagram by Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue from 1988 until his death in 2016, with the caption “He deserves first in Fashion Week”. Since that day, the rise of Louis Philippe de Gagoue is explained by his ability to leave no one indifferent. De Gagoue invented a character who embodies the height of his ambitions, and in his world full of fantasy, he is nothing less than royalty. “I started a blog ten years ago. It was very editorial. I have always loved telling stories and I have always been curious. I first worked with photographers before becoming myself. Franca Sozzani posted several photos from my blog. I admired this woman; she was passionate, like her sister Carla, ”remembers the twenty-nine-year-old stylist.
The multi-hyphen style seems to mix that of Akeem, the prince of the fictional kingdom Zamunda, played by Eddie Murphy in the classic of the late 1980s Coming to America, with avant-garde style: vintage pieces meet African audacity. It is impossible to miss De Gagoue with his golden crown, as if he had called himself king. At each show, he is targeted by street photographers and appears frequently in Fashionable online. “I want to be noticed when I walk into a room. It is this presence that interests me. I don’t filter what I say; I don’t care if you love me or not, ”he says. But, in the blink of an eye, the world has closed in on itself and the events of the 2020s have been canceled. Who could have predicted the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Raised between Ivory Coast and Cameroon, the workaholic studied law in Tunisia while traveling frequently to Dubai, Milan, Paris and wherever fashion and photography had led him. During his forties, however, he spent his time near his home, in the Ivorian seaside resort of Assinie Mafia. “I had to go home and work Nikkous third problem. But, in reality, there was nothing I could do. It was a difficult time. I couldn’t do photoshoots. Everything was closed, in France and in Ivory Coast, ”he explains. In Assinie, De Gagoue leaves aside all the artifices. It is not uncommon to see him dancing to electro music around the pool in swimming trunks, disconnected from the world, except to occasionally feed his Instagram account with his trips to neighboring villages.
When De Gagoue has an idea, he gives his all. Nothing is left to chance: every detail, every word is important. Nikkou, his magazine presented to resemble a coffee table book, opens speakers. “It’s good to have a voice because, for years, Africa has never spoken for itself. He has always been given special editions of Africa, as an exotic trend. It is good to have a multicultural and inclusive vision, a mature and controlled discourse of Africa. We need an Africa that represents all of this. For example, Made in Italia is synonymous with prestige. But, in the collective conscience, Made in Africa is often considered as sloppy and mediocre. I want to show through my work that we have a strong vision and execute with quality.
It also recognizes the dramatic effect that the pandemic has on African influencers and creators, who depend heavily on their European partners. But despite the current crisis, De Gagoue refuses to consider fashion as existing in a sphere mainly online and is skeptical about 3D fashion shows and the recent influx of technology and digitization. “Fashion is not just about clothes. The model brings clothes to life. The world without human interaction is not fashion. Fashion is not a virtual industry; we are in the realm of emotions. It does not make sense. Machines have no aura! ”
Her world collides with famous British model Naomi Campbell, South African pop singer Sho Madjozi and French TV personality Mademoiselle Agns. He adds without blinking: “You cannot reduce my work to Afro-futurism or Afro-something. I started this magazine because I didn’t want to dilute my work. Fashion is not for the uneducated; you have to master the story to be able to mix genres and materials. Cultural appropriation does not exist in Nikkou, just cross cultures and a celebration of beauty. ” Nikkou is more than a fashion magazine and De Gagoue is more than an influencer: together they are a public message that invites the world to rethink art and culture while working to actively redefine public perception of the industry , its history and its influences.
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