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The Nigerian photographer embraces the vintage Yoruba style

The Nigerian photographer embraces the vintage Yoruba style
Adam D. Crook
Written by Adam D. Crook

Who wrote Helen Jennings, CNN

For his latest project, Nigerian photographer Oy Diran looks at his old family photo for inspiration. The elegant dress worn by his parents, including his mother in the classic Nigerian Iro and Bubba style (rolled skirt and tailored top), specializes in him – often paired with gel (headwrap).

“I was struck by how attractive and rich this outfit was, and I recall how well my parents and their friends dressed when I was a child,” Theron wrote via email from where she now lives in New York. “The ance image of Iro and Buba will not blow over time, so I came up with this story to shed light on the beauty of my heritage.”

Before re-creating the same vintage feel for “AT De” (“We Came”), Deran went on to investigate more films from Nigeria from the 1960s to the 1980s, including pictures of three women dancing, posing and having a good time. Referring to Nigeria’s second largest ethnic group, “Yoruba people have found something to dress up and celebrate.” “Traditional weddings, for example, are an opportunity to wear your finest Iro and Buba, add accessories and show off,” he said.

From Theron’s “ATT” photo series Credit: Oye Theron

From the optimism that followed the independence from Britain in 1960, through the devastating civil war and subsequent military upheavals, the period from this project to Nigeria was a seismic and structural period. This is reflected in the ideas surrounding the country’s cultural landscape and clothing. However, Fela Kuti Inspired by the uprising and taught by Pan-Africanism, the most stylish inhabitants of Lagos blended local fashion with Western silhouettes. It speaks to today’s Nigerian image-makers, who use the past to comment on neo-colonialism and redefine black beauty. Lakin Ogunbano, Ruth Ossai and Theron.
From the Theron series

From the Theron series “A T De” Credit: Oye Theron

Diran first studied business and worked in event production before finding his calling as a photographer a decade ago. He taught himself to be skilled and enhance the minimalist yet warm aesthetic by quoting famous West African photographers. JD Okhai Ojikare, Malik Sidibo and Sedou Kesta Effect. “These legends depict the richness of their culture. I was inspired by their image set designs, styling and conceptual postures.”
From the Theron series

From the Theron series “A T De” Credit: Oye Theron

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Ozaikere’s famous archive documenting the intricate hairstyles and helmets of Nigerian women is echoed not only in “AT De”, but in Theron’s ongoing series “Gale”, which captures the Regal matrices in rich settings. “I started the series in 2017 as a way to understand the symbolic meaning of Jills and to express the vibrancy of African women,” he says.

From Theron's ongoing series

From Theron’s ongoing series “Gale” Credit: Oye Theron

Theron’s fashion and art photos are from both Vogue Italia and AfroPunk, and his works are included in an exhibition at the United Nations in 2018. This year, his photo “Makub” features the woman’s delicate face and hands in infinite pastel pink, winning the Expansion, Lens Culture Exposure Award. “‘Maktab’ is an Arabic word which means ‘it is written’. Our destinations are predetermined, but they must be pursued,” he said.

This year's photo

This year the photo won the lens culture exposure award for “Makub” Theron. Credit: Oye Theron

It debuted on the Global African Media Platform in March NataalTheron received many responses to “AT De” and its nostalgic appeal. “This view is very positive from Nigerians at home and across the Diaspora,” he said.

“People expressed the sense of pride, inspiration and empowerment that this project gave them.” It is tied to the wider notion of the fate of Theron to create images that speak to a positive, pan-African perspective.

“I would like to continue to convey the essence of African or black ideology by breaking down the misunderstood narratives of these cultures,” he said. “I want to be a part of the global power of illuminating culture from a diasporic perspective. Too many truths that are often overlooked and often silenced. I think it is our collective responsibility as African photographers.”

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About the author

Adam D. Crook

Adam D. Crook

Adam is a charismatic science communicator respected for his deep understanding of US S&T system. "New Frontiers in Science & Development' is the online platform he contributes to actively in addition to Science and Getty Images. He has won many national and international awards for his work. Explaining complexities of science in a simple language is his forte. He has extensive experience in reporting about the United State atomic energy program.
His pioneering work show casing US’s maiden mission to Mars and Moon has been applauded this aired in English for Television. In his two decades of writing for the prestigious American weekly Science, his stories have highlighted.

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