pablo di prima explores west african king figures in a fashion film

December 22, 2017

words by: Bere Wangge

London-based graphic designer and cinematographer Pablo Di Prima teams up with photographer Ruth Ossai for a fashion film fit for a king.

Made for Fucking Young’s Fall/Winter 2017 issue, the fashion film, along with the accompanying spread, feature pieces from this season’s collections by Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and more. Short as it may be, the three-minute-long film proves to be quite a deep and personal project for Ossai, as the title itself, “Ogbomgbom,” is actually derived from her grandfather’s nickname.  

Pablo di Prima x Ruth Ossai for Fucking Young Fall-Winter 2017 Royals issue Ogbomgbom on West Africa Kings and Fatherhood.jpg

In line with the theme of the issue (“Royals”), “Ogbomgbom” sees a cast of black male models dressing up as the modern version of West African kings from the 17th to 19th centuries. The modern “kings” in Di Prima’s vision, though, don’t necessarily have royal blood. Instead, the “kings” here are fathers, uncles, grandfathers and even mothers; the real-life people who “[come] close to the word ‘King.’ Someone unique, powerful and irreplaceable.”

To realize that vision, Di Prima then invites people of different West African backgrounds to share about the king-like personas around them. Model Dennis Okwera, for example, talks about his mother. His and the others’ voices as they tell their stories are then featured in the film, alongside grainy footage of the behind-the-scenes of the photo shoot.

In an interview with It’s Nice That, Di Prima notes that the film ends with a poem that was written by Ossai’s father for her grandfather. The poem is juxtaposed with a song sung by Xhosa fathers to their sons, recorded personally by Ossai during her time in South Africa.

This isn’t the first time the Nigeria-born Ossai’s explored her African heritage in a fashion project. Earlier this year she collaborated with director Akinola Davies for Kenzo’s Spring/Summer 2017 campaign, which focused on and celebrated Nigerian youth. Revisit our story on the campaign here.



Image c/o Fucking Young
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