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 William Mortensen -Zoila Conan, 1928 

Clara Bow in Rough House Rosie, 1927.

J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Hairstyles
“In the sixties, photography’s main focus was commercially oriented. Ojeikere, however, had other ideas. In 1968, a year after joining the Nigerian Arts Council, he shifted the focus of his photography to recording the cultural life of Nigeria. At the time, there were very few resources documenting fashion and most fashion imagery was taken from a colonial perspective that exoticized and attempted to theorize about culture and dress. Ojeikere, however, chose to document his subject matter from his own perspective, providing a resource for referencing styles he termed “ephemeral.” Through a body of photographic work spanning sixty years, he captured a glimpse into the postcolonial Nigerian identity through its fashion and style.
Fashion photography offers a retrospective on dress that refers to the socio-cultural environment and can be cross-referenced for future trends. Like his Malian contemporaries Seydou Keita and Malick Sidibé, Ojeikere had a way with portraiture and was able to capture subtle changes in style and dress. The negotiation between the dual influences of the West and traditional styling became apparent through his immense body of work. Having noticed a shift in hair trends during the fifties and early sixties, with women increasingly wearing wigs, Ojeikere believed that traditional hairstyling might disappear altogether. However, these hair styles did in time return. Believing photography to be the best way to capture the trend he began work on his most famous series, Hairstyles, which contains approximately a thousand images. His taxonomical approach meant that not only did he capture images of each style, but also learned its history and cultural significance.”
- Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins, Ph.D Curator, Visual Arts Program Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco