National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry (best (known for his hauntingly beautiful 1985 cover image, ‘Afghan Girl‘) has in an out of character move, shot Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2016 campaign in a Masai village in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.
The campaign, featuring a collection inspired by ‘wild, tribal, Africa,’ has caused various accusations of cultural appropriation due to the use of predominantly Caucasian models, who all feature wearing their hair in cornrows (which I have to admit, is never really a good look - Monica Geller in the Caribbean much?!) leaving some also feeling that the, perhaps more interesting, Masai in the shoot were used as props.
As a big fan of photojournalist Steve McCurry, and as a Kenyan who loves drawing attention of the beauty of her country, I find these pictures refreshing, and exciting. Rather than photograph the collection in a studio with a token elephant, this fashion shoot feels more like, as Pierpaolo Piccioli calls, a ‘cultural vision.’
Steve McCurry commented, ‘photography is always finding the best solution to a puzzle and creating some wonderful feeling or scenario, making a great story’ adding, ‘the idea of these pictures is to take the viewer on a journey. The clothes were inspired by African motifs, to take the shoot to Africa and show how these interact and, this connection of the clothes, the models, the environment, the local people; I thought it was a great endeavour.’ What are your thoughts?...
Below: A beyond beautiful behind the scenes video... and a stunning advert for visiting Kenya!