FashionLagos-based Style Director Ojemen Cosmas Celebrates Black Boys in Latest Project

Lagos-based Style Director Ojemen Cosmas Celebrates Black Boys in Latest Project

[SF] With his creative partner, co-style director Nezodo and frequent visual collaborator Ruby Okoro, Ojemen Cosmas captures the emotional nuances of young friendships. He tells us about his creative process, his journey in fashion and gives us insights into the Nigerian fashion scene.

How can we make an image that truly and empathetically reflects the essence and emotional nuances of young friendship?

“YOUTH: Friends and Growth” is a visual project which explores the journey of life with friends, the memorable experiences we create, and how these experiences shape us and ultimately help us grow.

At the inception of this project, the question they asked themselves was “How can we make an image that truly and empathetically reflects the essence and emotional nuances of young friendship?”

They sought to find an answer to this question by creating a visual narrative of a cohabitating friend group interacting in several scenarios in and around the flat they share. Their search culminated as a set of tender, affectionate images set in a dreamscape atop the chaos that is Lagos.

All subjects were adorned in expressive Maxivive pieces, specifically because this designer frequently uses his collections as tools for free and unorthodox expression, touching on subjects of freedom, nostalgia, homosexuality, to name a few.

“Young black men are often pressured to be tough and measured by yardsticks of toxic masculinity which are harmful to emotional growth in the long run. Our goal for this project is to represent young love among black boys and show black boys around the world that their love is valid, and it is beautiful.”

How did you get started working in fashion?

OC : My first experience with anything remotely core fashion was when I co- founded a fashion brand; PithAfrica, with my friends (Emeka Anazodo and Adedayo Laketu) during my last year in college, circa 2016, I think. This was my first time interacting with fashion at least from a creator’s perspective. I remember getting high and consuming looks from our favourite designer showcasing at NYFW, Paris and Milan, then give think pieces about the entire collection. After graduating, we released our first mini- collection titled “DILLY 1” which was about documenting the idea of acceptance and new beginnings.

I really stumbled into my career as a style director. My first interaction with fashion as a style director begin with an Internship with Daniel Obasi for Arise Fashion week. At that time, all I knew was that I wanted to work in the industry, and then on a random afternoon Daniel just hit me up to say he was looking for an assistant for AFW and then that was that. I worked with him for about a week and it’s been one experience to another. In all I am grateful for growth.


How would you describe the Nigerian fashion scene, and what do you like the most about it?

OC: The Nigerian fashion scene is like the wild west with an endless discovery of new talent and ideas, most of which are quite experimental. I mean you have a few seemingly mainstream designers (at least in certain social spaces) like Kenneth Ize, Mowalola or Orange Culture, but really everyone just trying to “figure out” more ways to have a significant impact from the supply chain to the design process.

I feel like this is a good thing, if everyone is on this wave then I guess the industry is safe. What I I’m currently feeling about the space right now is that anything can literally happen. The creative and fashion scene right now is currently experiencing a lot of cultural, international ideas and resource exchange which I believe is as a strong result of the internet and other factors. I feel like this sort of dismantles the idea of gatekeeping and even if it cannot eliminate it, at least right now there’s a bit of access. You just have to be ready to do the work.


What message are you trying to convey through your work? Are there any recurring themes that can be seen through your work?

OC: This one is tricky because I feel like I keep growing and discovering myself every time but right now I am trying to explore softer themes of friendship, family, and communal existence. I think this is because these are concepts I only got to consciously experience in the past four years of my life. Maybe next year I will be in a different headspace and I’ll feel the need to explore something else but right now this is where I am at.


What are some of your inspirations?

OC: I really draw inspiration from a lot of things and people. I used to be very crazy about Virgil Abloh, I feel like being a black man creating at that level and still maintaining his cool is amazing because everyone in fashion is so stuck up, like chill we just trying to have fun and create. Then I had my Mugler moment, I mean 90’s Mugler. I am inspired by a lot of things I see on the internet, and Instagram is like my home.


What are you trying to achieve next?

OC: I am really just trying to put out more personal projects before this year runs out and direct a short film for Pith! Then we move.

Photography Ruby Okoro
Creative and style direction Ojemen Cosmas, Anazodo Emeka
Art direction Headb0rn Studios
Models Adesoyin Mannie, Blaze Javu, Inyang Samuel Anuoluwapo
Fashion Maxivive

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