Welcome to this tenth episode of the new Dior Talks series ‘The Female Gaze’. With the term developed in response to the writings of feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, this podcast series will explore how the work of the female photographers and creatives collaborating with Dior offers a radically new and progressive image of women.
In this episode, series host Charlotte Jansen, a British journalist and author, talks to Nadine Ijewere, who is making major strides in the world of fashion photography at a remarkably young age. Despite a childhood passion for the art, Ijewere decided to forego the usual career ladder of studio apprenticeships and assisting, identifying early on a profound lack of true and representative images of women of color in the fashion industry, something she has consistently worked to rectify. From her first images of her group of ethnically diverse girlfriends to her work for major magazines, galleries and photo festivals, she hones her critical study of concepts of beauty and builds on her ongoing project to turn physical imperfections upside down.
Nadine Ijewere was born in 1992 and grew up in South-East London with Jamaican and Nigerian heritage. Photography was a creative outlet for her through her school years and she went on to study it at the London College of Fashion. After graduating she chose the atypical step of working in interior design, whilst continuing to shoot images of her friends in her spare time. Concerned by the crass stereotyping of ethnicities and cultures in fashion imagery, she worked with models of color from the start and posted her early work on social media. Quickly gaining recognition for her refreshing and searching depictions of multiracial subjects, she has since been in great demand for her ability to create beautiful fashion images which, through their reflection of her own diverse heritage and community, have offered a sorely needed break from the clichés and compartmentalization characteristic of the industry. In 2019, at the incredibly young age of 27, she became the first woman of color to shoot the cover of any Vogue magazine, with British Vogue. She has worked with many major publications around the world and has exhibited her work widely, including at Tate Britain in 2016 and the Lagos Photo Festival in 2017.
Here, Charlotte Jansen and Nadine Ijewere chat about London life, the diversity of the city and the very specific experience of being a child of mixed heritage in a white majority society, from the attitudes to black women’s hair to the preconceived perceptions which are invariably never far away. They discuss Ijewere’s modest disbelief at being invited to shoot the cover of Vogue, as well as her recent receipt of the International Center of Photography’s 2020 Infinity Award. She describes her surprised excitement at the rapid trajectory of her career and the influential and inspiring figures she is collaborating with. Not least, she reflects on the experience of shooting the Dior 2020 Cruise campaign and working with Creative Director of Women’s collections Maria Grazia Chiuri.