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Seyon Amosu and Iliana Kanellopoulou capture African Sunday nostalgia in 'Chuku Chuku'

For those from the African diaspora, Sundays were arguably the most important day of the week. Whether it was for church, mosque, or visiting family, Sunday was the day our parents would don their very best, most elaborate outfit of the week and make sure we did too. In this body of work stylist Seyon Amosu and photographer Iliana Kanellopoulou explore the fond memory of Sundays in an African household.

Taken from Nigerian Pidgin English, 'Chuku Chuku' refers to a sharp or pointy object, and in this collection is used to refer specifically to natural, Black hair as a representation for Black resilience. This story was inspired by African adornment, specifically the Ethiopian Surma and Mursi Omo Valley tribe headdress. With this as an inspiration, Stylist Seyon Amosu wanted to infuse his personal experience, growing up in a predominantly female household, Seyon recalls his experiences surrounded by his mother, sisters and aunties "where I used to help them dress up and give them style opinion. It reminded me of the first Sundays of every month going to church, it was a special occasion where everyone wore their best look even though we didn't have much at the time we made it work and we felt expensive in those looks."

This concept of 'making the most' sits central to 'Chuku Chuku' - "with the people of the Omo valley, there is this idea of making the most of the things around them and giving dignity to things that privileged people or others might dispose or take for granted and truly make it incredibly beautiful." Seyon tell us. This seems to be a reoccurring theme of his work, showing and celebrating the black experience and showing the talent, imagination and craft of making something out of nothing. "Creativity is our culture, it's part of our DNA."

Similarly, as a first generation immigrant, photographer Iliana Kanellopoulou wanted to document diaspora realities and explore what it means to be at home away from home. "As an immigrant in the UK, I want to showcase the cultures and lives of the people I have close to me - people that support and share my ambitions for a fairer world," she tells us. To truly capture the essence of the Sunday experience, 'Chuck Chuku' was shot close to Iliana's home in Dalston. "We took some of the pictures in Ridley Road Market. I visit the market almost every day for groceries and it's one of my favourite spots in my area."

The location of the shoot was crucial to portray an authentic, though stylised, story of the character. As Seyon tells us, 'Chuku Chuku' is created to show the model "like she was getting ready for a journey to church on a special Sunday". The hair and make-up were also symbolism of this. Seyon used using plastic/dry fruit to further beautify the traditional hair style and as colour inspiration for the makeup. "There is a juxtaposition in the appearance of the Omo valley tribe and my childhood Sunday best dressed, but they share the same values of pride and dignity.

Team credits

Model: Chanel Taylor @chanellygirl

Photography: Iliana Kanellopoulou @ilianakan

Creative Director and Stylist: Seyon Amosu @seyon__

Hair: Lu’s Curls @luscurls

Makeup: Francesca Daniella using YSL Beauty @frankiedaniella

Fashion Assistant: Cynthia Igbokwe @cynthia.ii

Words by Aisha Ayoade

Brand credits

Image one

Earring : Yifan Gao Jewellery

Necklace : Madam Safa

Dress: Maisie Dunton

Gloves: House of seyon

Ring : Ayse Daga

Tights : Baum und Pferdgarten

Shoes :

Image two and three

Earring: Yifan Gao

Dress: Ryan Lo

Tights: Baum und Pferdgarten

Gloves: House of seyon

Shoes: Yayi Chen

Image four

Earring: Shushu Tong

Turtle neck: One fifteen

Jacket, waist coat and skirt: Ryan Lo

Gloves: House of seyon

Thighs: Baum und Pferdgarten

Shoes: Shushu Tong


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