For this installment of “Out of the Box,” The Cut sent a trunk full of fall knits to Swiss photographer Namsa Leuba. Inspired in part by her Guinean mother, the photographer has spent the last two years researching and capturing African identity from an Occidental viewpoint, taking photographs that she would deem more artistically driven than most of the high-fashion images she finds “a little boring … when you look at the magazines, it’s always the same thing.” In April, she picked up the Photo Global scholarship at the International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères, France, for her series “Ya Kala Ben.” Shot in her mother’s hometown of Conakry, Leuba asked a group of locals to pose as an assortment of “statuettes.”
Upon receiving The Cut’s shipment of clothing, Leuba requested some large, colorful necklaces. She then plucked a trio of women off the street in Paris, explaining, “Most of the time, models are too skinny,” but when one didn’t show up to Leuba’s studio, Leuba stood in for her. Using Topshop and Carven sweaters as skirts, putting wood planks in a Thom Browne jacket, tying her models together with rope, and styling a broom as a mohawk, Leuba elaborated on her idea of African statues, this time from a fashion perspective. She admitted, “A photo takes me a while, because I think about the composition, the background, and what I’m going to put in … I like to intervene with my images, and manage everything from A to Z, and play with different perspectives.” Click ahead to see (and read) more of the story behind Leuba’s shoot.
Fashion market editing by Michelle Reneau.