Photography has had a long history. Photographers have with their lenses, immortalized through Vogue editorials and covers, how changes in women’s fashion mirrored feminism, suffrage, women’s liberation and two world wars.
Beninois photographer Fabrice Monteiro, known for his emotionally provoking and visually stimulating photography has always straddled many worlds, including lifestyle, fashion and world issues. However his 2015 fashion photography project, Prophecy No1 properly introduced him to the fashion elite and marked him a proper savant among photographers.
In protest of the widespread and often ignored pollution that was wrecking the once pristine beaches of Senegal and threatening the livelihoods of fishermen earning meagre livings through fishing crayfish and other sea food in Senegalese waters, Fabrice Monteiro partnered with French-Senegalese couturier, Doulsy (otherwise known as Jah Gal) and the ecofund organization to create the Prophecy No1 project, a series of afrofuturist photographs steeped in fantasy and magical realism to represent the harrowing effect of ecological erosion.
Shot across Senegal, Doulsy and Monteiro manage to find a fragile but fantastical balance between their magical creatures wearing fantastical clothing and props made by the costume designer and contemporary Senegal. Doulsy outdoes itself with each costume, creating masterpieces that range from 7 to 12 feet tall that also remain surprisingly intricate, all made literally from garbage.
Fashion has proven to be just as powerful a catalyst to accelerate climate change as industrialization. Mostly as a result of globalization, the outsourcing of manufacturing to third world countries and the scourge of fast fashion. It is estimated that much of the water pollution in the last five years has come from dumping of chemically untreated waste in third world countries by clothing manufacturers and sweat shops. Prophecy No1 proves that fashion can just as easily be a tool for good and an avenue for non-gimmicky advocacy.
Many argue that this Monteiro’s opus, and as fashion heads, we agree. We really hope he does more fashion photography.