Ib Kamara Dreams of a New, Intergalactic World for Off-White™
“Thinking cannot die. Thinking lives on beyond our human body. Once you plant the seed it grows and that’s how I see Off-White™.”
From Virgil Abloh‘s go-to stylist to Off-White™’s Art and Image Director, Ib Kamara delivered his first collection for the brand with a remembrance and a rebirth in unison. The Fall/Winter 2023 showcase offered a sensorial reversal of expectations, a planting of new creative dreams and a spiritual tribute to Off-White™’s founder.
Kamara’s meteoric rise through the fashion industry began while studying at Central Saint Martins and was quickly followed by a distinct and rebellious styling path working with brands including Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Labrum. His reflections on Black masculinity, Afrofuturism and his ties between Sierra Leone, Gambia and London cemented him as an unmistakable image maker with a vision for nonconformity.
His FW23 collection titled “Lunar Delivery” was conceptualized through the lens of intergalactic travel and design – allowing Kamara to become untethered by the constraints of gravity and open space for creative freedom. Reminiscent of a space landing, models trekked through moon dust in space suit-inspired outerwear, metal stud adornments and other-worldly rust colorways.
In an emotional farewell that left many of us in tears, Kamara linked arms with Naomi Campbell and greeted the crowd in an ode to the new, brave and everlasting future of Off-White™.
Continue reading to learn more about Kamara’s “Lunar Delivery” and his dreams for Off-White™ and beyond.
Can you tell us about the moment when you discovered you would be taking on this role and how it’s all progressed in the year following?
I was at home when it was announced which was nice because I got to take everything in and see what it means for me, for the brand, for V’s legacy and for the community that loves Off-White™. It’s been a year of processing the universe he created and I’m very happy with where we’re going.
Virgil is here today – his legacy will always be with us. You shared in the show notes that “he showed us all what we could be.” Is there a moment for you where that sentiment really stands out?
I think with V, nothing was impossible. He never saw any obstacle that he couldn’t conquer. As long as you work hard, you do the research and you respect the craft then you’ll have a voice. He lived by those principles and now, that’s my voice at Off-White™. I went to design school but I come from a different perspective. I’m more of a thinker and disruptive – conceptual thinking is one of our House goals. Thinking cannot die, thinking lives on beyond our human body. Once you plant the seed it grows and that’s how I see Off-White™.
This collection is titled “Lunar Delivery” and we imagine the audience will take this to mean many things. So, what does it mean to you?
It means a dream, innovation and always questioning things. It’s the childlike curiosity that is built into Off-White™. Delivery, to me, takes a very industrial thing we rely on like food or packages and brings you this human feeling when you receive something. I was playing with the idea that if you delivered something to the moon then what would it look like? What would a woman look like? What would a boy look like? How would that affect how you think about eyewear?
I took apart this delivery concept which I think is very Off-White™ – to take something culturally relevant and flip it into a new space.
Do you think placing this collection out of Earth allowed for more creative freedom and less restriction to gravity in the silhouettes themselves?
Yes, there’s no rules once you leave this planet. You have to be very inventive and think really hard about what the other side is going to look like. I’m obsessed with anything that has to do with going to the moon and being on-the-go.
Would you go to the moon?
I would love to, if I had the money. One day.
Coming from a styling background, what was the most surprising thing about taking a creative lead?
During this collection I had to take off my styling hat and look at design and how far we can push tailoring and outerwear. I focused on experimentation and development of fabrics and really engineering and hybridizing things. I didn’t style it while I was designing it but the problems were solved in the end.
We heard you carry a notebook around everywhere. Can you share a couple of your recent notes?
I’ve been writing a lot of words for the next collection. But, for this collection, I was writing about straps and how when you place a bag on your shoulder it creates an illusion of a back strap. There’s a lot of things I was writing down, Africa, Sierra Leone, rust, mud, metal, studs, tires — there’s a lot of things.
You’ve said designers should make sure that their backgrounds are reflected in their work as that’s what sets them apart. So, from Sierra Leone to Gambia to London, how have you brought your background to this collection?
There’s definitely Sierra Leone in there, in terms of the colors, textures, prints and the take on color and rust. I maintain where I’m from and what makes me “me” in everything that I do.
What feeling do you want to leave the show guests with today?
A dream. A dream of going somewhere.