You’ve seen the man Ikenna Ideh and his works but do you really know him? Today we go up close and personal with him.
Scar, as he loves to be called is not your everyday guy. He’s not the kind of person you can figure out by mere looking at him, or by even close observation. As Ikenna marks his birthday today, he decided it was time to tell his story.
Designer – Emmy Kasbit
Stylist – Overdose Kulture
My family and childhood
My name is Ikenna B . R Ideh and I’m from Enugu-Ukwu in Anambra State. I grew in a (Christian home) family of 6 siblings. I’m the 4th child of my parents. My dad was into transportation business while mum was a trader. My parents were conservative liberals but my mum was much stricter.
I remember one day a friend came around the house. Dad was all questions – who are you? Who are your parents? What do they do….
Growing up was more like a circle. School-shop-Church. What made my childhood memorable was the fact that I had to use Alter boys Saturday meeting as a way to escape from home, to play football or meet up with friends. But then after WAEC, I spent a lot of time with my mum. That made me learn a lot from her about business, life, future and so many things that shaped who I am today.
I am closer to my mum, because my dad died in 2004. My mum is my source of inspiration. Her never give up attitude that has seen her business flourish in recent times.
Decision to move to Abuja
During my NYSC in Maiduguri in 2010/11, I used to visit Abuja and from the first time I visited, I knew this is where I wanted to live. The serenity, ambience and lush green gardens that is the signature of Abuja.
One person that really helped me during my early days in Abuja was Mazi Ugochukwu Onyejiuto. He was able to get me jobs at different places and offices.
Journey into photography
This is my second year plus as a photographer. After I left my employer of then, I consulted a friend (Ronaldthe7th) to help me workout my photography dreams. He linked me up with Bedge who took me in as an intern. That’s where my journey into photography began.
Why I love fashion and fashion photography
My dad was my biggest inspiration. He used to wear plain trousers (Onitsha Street slang – Episee) with white sneakers. His white sneakers were always sparkling white and he usually clean them himself.
I remember I used to have this short then that I loved so much, when my mum was hospitalized. She ordered that I don’t come to the hospital unless I dress in something else. I had to iron a trouser and a short sleeve shirt I wore to visit her at the hospital and she was so happy that day.
If you see all my siblings now, we are really fashionable.
I started dressing because it’s a form of expression for me. I used to be photographed everyday by James (good guy) at the office which got me lots of attention.
Then I started visiting Africa countries, seeing different things, especially in Abidjan. The people, the color, the food and of course, the brocade fabrics. My next visit was Dakar but before I embarked on the trip, I bought a Sony camera that I tried using to take some nice photos instead of using my iPhone. I was highly disappointed that I didn’t know how to operate the camera. That was where I said to myself “you know what? I will develop this as skill and create happy moments with cameras.
I used to watch lots of fashion shows (especially Dior) and I always had the dream of shooting on the runway and backstage someday. Here I am today having fun and expressing my artistic talents.
Why my growth in fashion photography has been fast?
Bedge was the motivation. The way he prepares for his jobs are always detailed. He prepares his tools sometimes 48hrs ahead and he’s always on time.
Even though Bedge was into weddings, being that I have passion for fashion, I told myself I will tap into this. I also felt there were few people who can identify as fashion photographer. I then chose fashion photography as art.
I did lots of research, read so many articles on fashion, photography and fashion photography. Then in 2018, I had the opportunity to be part of few artist who were chosen to participate in Lagos Fashion Week X Canon Miraisha program (fashion photography course).
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I used Lagos Fashion Week as an experiment ground, after so many days of training. It was an eye opener for me and helped me expand on what I already knew of fashion and fashion photography.
I am what I am today because God, hard work, reading and research upon research. Also, I try always to apply my construction experience into how I shoot, especially my angles.
Fashion photography to me is a way to express beauty in any form. Just like my mum used to tell me when I started, there’s beauty in everything but you only need to look deeper to see it. I intend to use this as way to address some social issues, be it positive or negative.
Also, to highlight on how we can utilize our cultural background to narrate our own stories, not as how the foreign media portrays Africa, especially in the issues of cultural misappropriation. African fashion industry is worth billions of dollars as we speak.
I’m inspired by models’ facial structure, body frames, height, lips, forms of poses and expressions by either emotion, eyes, fingers, lips, etc. And then pieces he/she is wearing. How can this frame of body fit into the designer’s pieces that will narrate the story behind that particular pieces they are wearing?
It takes a whole lot to come up with art direction for a particular story. Permit me to say that fashion photography is a daunting task, if you’re not prepared, unlike portrait photography, that the subject will sit, stand or look left or right. In fashion, you express your views between forms and emotions attached to a story behind the pieces.
I’m also inspired by Kanye West, Tim Blanks, Lou Escobar, Muiccia Prada, Raf Simmons
Brands I’ve worked with include Emmy Kasbit, Orange culture, Rick Dusi, Ili, Assian, Jzo, UBA marketplace, chiip O/Neal, Chusunwapha, Bughe Urban, Sammy Kal, Omeruo, Onwuchekwa, Dumebi, Cynthia Abila, Nkwo,
Individuals I’ve worked with include Uthman Bangura, Ekow Barnes, Uchenna Enyokwa, Kwen Maye, Moses Ebite, Emmanuel Okoro, Ejike Manny, Chigozie Aguocha, Wunmi Eruaga, Peaurfiner, Kelly Oputa, Bedge, mindmaze, Micheal Osai
Media houses I’ve worked with: GQ, Vanity Teen, Folklore, Vogue Italia, Nataal media, Gumbo media, Abujanow.com.
What to know about Scar Luxury
Scar Luxury is my pet project and an experiment. A brand I started same time as photography. I love fashion and fashion photography so I was like, why not give them a shot and see. I’ve had several collaborations, especially with Emmy Kasbit.
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We are into affordable Luxury – hides and skin products and clothes. They’re all exclusive pieces and also, we offer bespoke for clients with huge interests and tastes. All hides and skin are sourced from kano while Cotton is sourced from Katsina.
I’ve been of the view that ‘why wear fake foreign brand when you can afford a decent Nigerian Luxury, yet affordable’.
We also use it to highlight the need to source for our fabrics and accessories locally, thereby reducing unemployment.
Scar Luxury is about creating affordable value and experience that will last for a lifetime.
How I handle my different ventures
Though not easy, it has been fun. This is my 8th year in construction. I love construction, from the inception of the idea to the execution, supervision, monitoring, meeting deadline, managing cost implications.
Construction is very challenging, especially when managing clients and stakeholders’ expectations but I am fulfilled when I’m creating stories or documentaries.
Construction is brain work. It takes a toll on you always, but photography is fun. I still love my construction too. Even as photography is fun, it’s more fun when you earn from what makes you happy!
Misconception people have about me
People always think I’m too strict or too rigid. Actually, I am not like that at all. Most times, I just want to protect my mental, emotional and psychological health. Minding my business and don’t attend to what’s not meant for me. I like talking things out, not because I really want to but it saves everyone’s time and drama.
What most people don’t know about me
I’ve spent 8yrs in construction. Lived in the 6 geopolitical zones of Nigeria. My secret talents include art direction/production. I have also been attending a workshop on “creative producer” with AWCA x Watershed x British Council.
I also possess Skills- cost management, Project management certification, IBM badges – Artificial intelligence, critical analysis (problem solving), Internet of Things. Solid knowledge of resource and quality control and procurement analyst.
My ultimate goal in the creative space
What I am trying to achieve with either photography or fashion is to tell our own very story our way.
In fashion, I always feel the word “sustainable fashion” is just a PR word that lacks transparency. Recently there are issues being raised in some Asian countries about forced labor and yet these pieces are sold for thousands of dollars while the artisans earn within the range of $50-$80.
My point is, if for instance I got my fabric from a cotton farm in Katsina, don’t you think if I pay the mallam accordingly, based on his artistic talents, won’t he deliver them knowing he is fulfilled, which will make him give more time to my work, that sometimes they keep calling you for more production because their families are well fed, due to your willingness to pay the farmer the worth of his talent. That process alone will sustain the foundations of the brand.
I just want to be happy!
The fashion season is here upon us. Expect some magic. Hard work pays eventually. Stay true to your desires and aspirations. Good things never cease to come. As each day passes, so is good things that follows it!
By Mr Manny