Perfectly cropped trousers and crisp, fresh outerwear were characteristic of the Head of State+ Spring 2018 Collection. The ten minimalist looks at the presentation, however, were rooted in a much more complex history: colonialist and post-colonialist West Africa.
Taofeek Abijako, of Lagos, Nigeria, and later Albany, New York, is the founder and designer behind this contemporary streetwear brand. Despite the lack of formal fashion training, Head of State+ was conceived while the now 19-year-old designer was still in high school.
In regards to his most recent collection, Abijako told The New York Times “I’m interested in the way the natives adopted European styles and made them their own — I can say natives because I’m African.”
In an effort to understand this act of cultural adaptation and modification, Abijako looked to contemporary Malian photographers Malick Sidibé, and Seydou Keïta. Both artists were revolutionary in the 1960s for capturing Bamako's blossoming post-colonial youth culture and allowing their subjects, black people, to be agents of their own representation.
Despite Sidibé and Keïta's photos being in black and white, an intense level of energy can be sensed when viewing their works. With a bright primary color scheme, geometric patterns, and precise tailoring, the Spring 2018 Head of State+ collection picks up where these artists left off. Check out the full collection here, courtesy of WWD.