Stylist Ibrahim Kamara is Pushing the Boundaries of Fashion, Gender and Race

The recent Central Saint Martins graduate on his Somerset House exhibit, “2026,” which he styled with photographer Kristin-Lee Moolman.

Kristin Lee-Moolman

Why not wear a wedding dress every day of the week? And if we’re going there, why can’t a man wear a wedding dress? These are some of the questions 26-year-old stylist Ibrahim Kamara poses in his photo exhibit “2026,” which is on view at London’s Somerset House as part of a larger show titled, “Utopian Voices Here and Now,” featuring young British-based creatives who explore ideas of gender, sexuality and race.

Along with South African photographer Kristin-Lee Moolman (whom he met via Instagram), Kamara decided to imagine what masculinity and men’s fashion might look like in 10 years, specifically for black men.

“For me, ‘2026’ is escapism to a world in which I can do whatever I want,” said Kamara just days after his graduation from Central Saint Martins in London. Inspired by his experiences growing up in Sierra Leone, his friends in London, and the streets of Johannesburg, the resulting looks in the exhibit feature David Beckham jerseys worn as skirts, white gloves paired with low-slung jeans, and yes, even a wedding dress.

Although there’s currently a movement in fashion to push the boundaries of men’s and women’s, and everything in-between, Kamara’s vision strives to break all the rules of convention. As someone so far ahead of the curve, he shared what he’s wearing, shopping, and thinking about right now.

Where did you source the looks for “2026”? How did you put them together? We found the looks in charity stores, dumpsters, and sourced fabrics from local stores. There was a lot of cutting and pinning to get the looks I had in mind. It was pretty much like a DIY design studio.

In your own personal experience or more generally speaking, how would you describe the relationship between masculinity and fashion today? Between fashion and black men today? Sometimes it’s hot; sometimes it’s not hot. But when it’s not hot, new ideas are usually boiling up behind-the-scenes and then something amazing comes out and shocks everyone. I think the black man today is becoming a lot freer to express himself, which is great because it gives a platform for projects like “2026” to have a space.

How do you envision this relationship evolving in the next 10 years? What do you hope for? I envision the creation of more spaces where people are able to be whomever and whatever they want to be. I hope the Internet generation continues to expand because it connects people from different parts of the world and makes it easier to exchange ideas and create new movement and imagery.

Can you unpack a specific look from “2016” that illustrates your answers to the above? The wedding gown. Just imagine being able to wear a wedding dress any other day because its normal and that’s what you want to wear. In my head that is the ultimate look.

How would you describe your personal style? I am always on the go, so practical. Mostly black because its easier to run around with. Maybe earrings, depending on what and where I am heading too.

Personal style icon: Barry Kamen and Kareem Reid.

What is your mission as a stylist? How do you approach your work? I approach my work not trying to understand it most times because it leads me on to experiment and find new things. I really love what I do, so you will often find me in the library researching. I have a notebook with me most times during the day taking notes of what’s around me.

Where you shop in London: When I was at Central Saint Martins, there was a charity store close to the university that helps homeless people, so it felt right to spend my little money in there.

Night-out look: Might find me in a dress, or a suit with a sinched waist with an open back. I love a cheeky open back.

Best recent discovery: The book “On Fear” by J.Krishnamurti. It’s really inspiring, especially for a recent graduates like me. I am also obsessed with old school hip-hop at the moment because I was never allowed to listen to it growing up.

Last purchase: Shoes from Rokit in Bricklane.

Lusting after: A Charles Jeffery jumper, Y3 trainers, the Naomi Campbell book, and a YSL boot.

Most prized possession(s) in your closet: A pair of shoes my late mentor Barry Kamen gave me, which are in my exhibition. I love them so much.

Favorite designers of the moment: Charles Jeffery, John Gallanio at Margiela , YSL, and Craig Green.

What’s been your experience at school? What are your plans after graduation? Central Saint Martins has been the best thing to happen. The tutors push you to the very end. The amazing friends I have grown with over the years. I hope to work in the industry across various avenues pushing ideas and creativity.

Ibrahim Kamara

Ibrahim Kamara

Ibrahim Kamara

Lebohang Otukile (left), Johannesburg, “2026.”

Kristin Lee-Moolman

Fela Gucci and Desire Marea of Faka, Johannesburg, “2026.”

Kristin Lee-Moolman

Ntsako and Kash, Johannesburg, “2026.”

Kristin Lee-Moolman