In March 2008 I found myself in Sierra Leone, the director of photography on a documentary feature film. While traveling the war-ravaged countryside, I learned of something completely unexpected; a fashion designer smack in the middle of Freetown, one of the world’s poorest cities. Adama Kai had just returned to her blighted native land from the fashion havens of NY and Paris, to make and sell high end, concept driven clothing to the world.
We met, and decided to do a photo shoot – Adama’s first for her fledgeling clothing line, Aschobi. With no permits, planning, or crew to speak of, we went down to River #2, a beautiful beach outside of Freetown frequented by the
Lebanese businessmen and diamond dealers who control most of the trade in Sierra Leone. The pictures from this shoot would prove immensely useful, their online presence bringing BBC and Reuters to Adama’s door for interviews with the hot new designer from the war torn land.
Now, a little over a year later, and after three subsequent guerilla shoots with me, Adama is taking her first full collection to her first major fashion week, in Johannesburg, South Africa. My continuing work with her has sparked a larger photographic project, shooting designers in post conflict countries, and giving them free use of the images for their own promotion. I have so far shot three other Bosnian designers in the ruins of Sarajevo, and would like to continue the project In Israel/Palestine (a joint shoot with both a Palestinian and Israeli designer, and corresponding models), Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Kosovo. Ultimately I hope to bring their work, through runway and print, to the major fashion markets of the West.
Henry Jacobson - Photographer
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