Fashion á la Congo

Africa, fashion

I’ve taken a step back in time somewhat, to a photoshoot I did in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo some 10 months ago. Mélanie Gouby, the journalist I was working with at the time has been slaving away on a personal project for sometime… namely Mutaani Magazine, a glossy publication for the Congolese youth, launched this month. Mutaani means ‘in the city’, and it’s targeting the educated, urban youth of the area.

Mélanie and I were out having a drink one evening at a bar with live music and heard the girl you see above… Volpi. She was in DRC’s equivalent of the X Factor or American Idol or something, and she didn’t win, but I guess is quite well-known in the usual reality-TV age group. Anyway, we met her afterwards, and she turned out to be very polite, quietly charming and pretty normal for a teenager that’s spent much of the last year competing in a televised singing contest. Not exactly Jedward…

She agreed to be photographed for a shoot, and I agreed to photograph her. 10 months later and the first issue is out after huge efforts from Mélanie and her team. Here is a sneak peek of the tear sheets from my shoot with Volpi. Possibly my only attempt at fashion… so gulp it in.

I should also mention that you can buy Mutaani Magazine – online PDF, iPad or in paper. This truly is a piece of history. Where the international media are still only interested in country’s constant conflicts and corruption, here is a source of light and hope, highlighting DRC’s “normality” and that it can and will one day have this “normality”. Buy it here.

Mélanie and Volpi chose the clothes and Nadine Lusi (Goma’s go-to person for…. well, anything) helped us scout out a decent venue (the cathedral destroyed by the nearby volcano 10 years ago). Tom McHale was the glamourous assistant who managed to bribe some local kids with some sweets to be his glamourous assistants. All of them were very good in trying to get me to stop shooting after some local smack dealers (was it smack?!? – I never stopped to ask) decided to encroach on the shoot towards the end. Turns out it was ‘their territory’. Quite enjoyable otherwise, even considering the rain…

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