One dress designed by Thea Ajayi
ONE WEEK with the Ankara dress! We reveal the images to each other at the end of the project.
How it all began:
In the last couple of years many travelling dress projects have been appearing in female photography groups all over the globe. The set ups involve a group of willing photographers looking for a project to challenge themselves, and to feel a part of a new movement. The result is to showcase the same dress, with different interpretations and present it to the world.
Tianna is the founding member of our travelling dress project, she is an amazing artist and lovely friend. Her vision encompassed a bright dress with authentic tones. We spoke about commissioning an African designer whom presented our group with fabrics and we found Thea worked beautifully within the vision and style, which we all voted for. Size was a key subject and we initially wanted a dress which could fit most women. This was the biggest challenge and we had to settle on about a size 12/14 round arms, however the rest of the dress was flexible. If we were to re-design the dress it would have more flexibility around the arms, making it a more inclusive design.
THE DRESS: We chose an Ankara print thanks to the stunning colours and shapes. The print is made by the African print dutch company called Vlisco. After being initially presented by the Dutch to the Indonesian textile market, it took shape and home in West Africa due it’s tribal-like patterns.
Note: We don’t see much of this print and designs on the catwalk, but we think this should change.
Inspired by a diverse upbringing; I imagined that anyone could wear this unique style. My model call searched for three types of models: African, Chinese or European heritage. This was the the first challenge, thanks to the limited shooting in one week, the latter part of the vision failed. I didn’t manage to secure a model with European heritage, due to the time restraints and the model’s availability. I realised in hindsight I needed to have a few back-ups for the next challenge. Instead I had two amazing women of African heritage and a very stunning woman of Chinese heritage. All were amazing to work with, and they all suited the Akara dress in different ways.
The time constraint was not the only challenge; the dress itself was unusual and with no real experience in fashion, I had to think on my feet and use as much common sense along with creativity.
The third challenge was the style of portrait itself. I have experience with newborn, children and family photography. Changing my mindset from making memories to making fashionable or artistic portraits would give my mind a jump start. It took off and I went with the flow of the model and the dress. I used props I would not normally consider and an editing process to make some of the images stand out from the norm.
My final challenge was to make every female who wore this dress in the project feel exceptionally beautiful. To make their personalities stand out as much as the dress and not lose one over the other.
The images below are shown in order of the photoshoots taken.
The Studio Fashion Portrait: Marie Gordon
The Studio Art Portrait: Jing-Yun Wu
The Outdoor Portrait: Candice Alana
THE REVEAL TO THE GROUP:
On Friday 10th January, we all shared our blogs and images to each other before our launch to the rest of the community. This was the most awe inspiring moment to see how diverse we represented the dress. One of the loveliest people Louisa Coulthard, was the lady whom I sent the dress on to, and it makes sense that she follows my story as she added in the one cultural element that I could not shoot, see her beautiful images here on her blog.
The next steps:
We still have the dress in our circle and would be happy to pass it onto another group of photographers either in the UK or abroad. Comment below if you are interested.
We hope we have inspired more people to challenge themselves and step outside of their comfort zone.
travellingdress, travellingankara, ankara, travellingdressproject, sisterhoodtravellingdress, ankaratravelling, ukbfttravellingdress, thetravellingdress, travellingdressUK, femalephotographers,#africanfemalephotographers#photographyprojects ,ankarafashiongallery ,ankaralondon ,blackphotographersuk ,fashion ,fashionphotography, blackgirlmagic, blackgirlrock, Ukbftog, ukphotographer, ukfemalephotographers, ukfashionphotographers