By Salone Messenger Media and Hawanatu Konneh Network.
In Sierra Leone: Global fashion icon IB Kamara is not trending in his home country, but he is a big news across the world as the newly appointed Art & Image Director at Off-White.
It has been almost a week since Off-White announced IB Kamara’s appointment as new Art & Image Director at Off-White. However, this is the first time that some people in Sierra Leone are hearing about this global fashion icon. He is not trending on major local platforms. Generally, the fans of celebrities usually share the news on social media platforms with tags that results in mass trending, as previously seen during the visits of two other prominent celebrities from Sierra Leone, i.e the global movie star Idris Elba and football icon Antonio Rüdiger. The phenomenon is not seen with IB Kamara.
Salone Messenger Media and Hawanatu Konneh Network are proud to publish the true life story of London most influential stylist Ibrahim Kamara, famously known as Ib Kamara or I.B.
Who is IB Kamara?
The Sierra Leonean London based Fashion designer Ibrahim Kamara’s journey began on the war-torn streets of Sierra Leone, the former Dazed editor in chief is now one of fashion’s most influential stylists who was recently announced Off-White art and image director
Kamara attributes his turbulent early years and growing up watching world affairs develop via CNN and BBC news programmes with inspiring his focus on current affairs. Before coming to London, he spent three years studying sciences with the intention of becoming a doctor and pleasing his parents, but was unhappy doing so, and decided to pursue fashion as a career option. After enrolling on an art & design course at Westminster Kingsway College, Kamara studied fashion communication at Central Saint Martins. Kamara has dyslexia which he regularly acknowledges in interviews.
Art & Image Director at Off-White.
After almost six months of Virgil Abloh’s passing, the renowned global stylist, Off-White is continuing his legacy by appointing Ib Kamara as the art and image director of the brand. Off-White announced Ib Kamara’s appointment through an Instagram post from their official handle on April 30, 2022. The company further elaborated on the relationship between Ibrahim and late Virgil Abloh.
In a press release, Andrea Grilli, Off-White’s CEO, commented upon her views regarding the newest partnership:
“Having Ibrahim on board, who has been part of the Off-White family for years styling our shows, to oversee art and creative of the brand in this next chapter is a great honor. With his talent and vision we look forward to taking on the next chapter of Off-White together, always remembering the groundbreaking creativity and values that Virgil had at heart and that are the core of our brand.”
IB will take up the position previously held by Off White’s iconic founder Virgil Abloh who died last year. IB worked closely with Abloh for three years, styling the late designer’s posthumous Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2022 and Fall/Winter 2022 shows. According to the official announcement by Off-White, IB will also develop his influence and insight on the brand’s fashion label’s collections, image, and content.
Following his appointment, IB posted a message on instagram (see below), as he pays special tribute to Virgil Abloh.
Kamara’s approach is based upon gender identity, fluidity and exploration, queerness and also upon Blackness and African identity and beauty. He attributes his early studies of science with helping him develop his focus and attention to detail. While he originally thought he might become a designer, Kamara became an assistant to the stylist Barry Kamen which established his career as a stylist. His inspirations include the composer Hans Zimmer, the film director Quentin Tarantino and the American fashion journalist Diana Vreeland, who Kamara admires for their ability to create instantly identifiable worlds.
Kamara was first noticed in 2016 when he curated an exhibition in London titled “2026” which focused upon Black African masculinity. The models, recruited off the street of Soweto, dressed in outfits made using second-hand clothing, and photographed by Kristin-Lee Moolman, helped Kamara address and challenge conventional ideas of race, gender and sexuality in fashion while also aiming to suggest what menswear would look like a decade later.The exhibition was shown at Somerset House, which led to him being introduced by Jamie Morgan to Robbie Spencer of Dazed who gave Kamara his first fashion editorial.
As a stylist, Kamara was popular with the late Virgil Abloh of Louis Vuitton menswear and Off-White, and also styled catwalks and advertising for Riccardo Tisci of Burberry and Erdem. Other clients include Stella McCartney, Dior, Kenneth Ize and Lorenzo Serafini. Comme des Garçons invited him to design hats for their show, and H&M signed him up to direct their first circularly-designed (zero-waste) collection. He worked with Rihanna, both for her label Fenty, and as her personal stylist when she was featured on the cover of Dazed. Abloh described Kamara as a prime example of how “diversity can bring out the best of the fashion industry”. For his work as a stylist, Kamara was awarded the Isabella Blow Award by the British Fashion Council on 29 November 2021.
In 2021, Iain R. Webb was asked by the Fashion Museum, Bath to choose garments representing 2020 for their Dress of the Year collection. Among the outfits he chose to represent 2020 was a unique dress called “A Dress of Hope”, designed by Dazed‘s art director, Gareth Wrighton and styled by Kamara out of vintage table-linens and doilies collected by Webb.
His first issue of Dazed celebrated the National Health Service and people working together for change, and Kamara’s aim is for the magazine to be globally relevant to readers from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. When he received the Isabella Blow award in 2021, he said he was proud to be a beneficiary of the WWD awards’ new focus on individual change-makers rather than companies and brands. As part of his approach to running Dazed, Kamara tries to secure contributors from all around the world, especially from underrepresented fashion centres such as those in Africa and the Middle East.
In addition to having their collaborative design chosen as a look for 2020, Kamara and Wrighton were the journalists chosen by the Fashion Museum, Bath to select the Dress of the Year for 2021. They chose the Armani wrap dress worn by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex for her and her husband‘s interview with Oprah Winfrey. Kamara and Wrighton argued that because Oprah with Meghan and Harry became an “iconic” and “definitive anti-establishment moment” that would endure in the British collective memory, it made sense to consider the dress worn by the pregnant Duchess as part of this story.
IB Kamara has worked for and across many fashion giants and labels, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Lorenzo Serafini, Erdem, and more. Kamara was previously awarded the Isabelle Blow Award at the British Fashion Council’s The Fashion Awards.