‘It’s a love letter to being black and British’
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“To Me, You Are Beloved is a love letter to being black and British,” says Wase Aguele, editor-in-chief and founder of the storytelling platform Roundtable. She’s speaking of her new collaboration with the creative agency A Vibe Called Tech and Gucci, which sees a set of creatives recreating photographs from their family archives, shot and styled with handbags from Gucci’s Beloved collection. “We wanted to create space to talk about black identity and history in a fun way.”
The resulting photos, with their vintage interiors props and the archive-inspired Gucci bags, use style and clothing to celebrate the value of inheritance and family lineage. Styled in patterned suits and a Gucci Horsebit 1955 bag, Brian Nasty and Joviale – British-Congolese siblings and musicians – chose to recreate a photo of their mother and uncle. “It was an interesting way to time travel and engage with the past,” said Joviale.
“It’s kind of cool seeing our mum in her younger days. That picture is just an opportunity for me to come up with a story, since I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on in it, but I’d like to keep it that way,” says Brian Nasty.
For the accompanying text, four black women writers have been commissioned to craft essays engaging with the ideas and themes that come through in the photographs. “It was a nostalgic feeling being part of this project,” says Lisa Elde, a singer-songwriter who chose to recreate a photo from her daughter Damsel’s childhood. “It took me back to the roots of my African and Caribbean ancestry, particularly my dad’s family and their journey to Britain. I was able to connect with my dad in a way that drew us closer. I could see the little boy in him as he told me the stories. Being on set and recreating these images was a lovely gesture to an important historic period which has often been overlooked when considering the African and Caribbean diaspora.”
For A Vibe Called Tech founder and HTSI columnist Charlene Prempeh, it was an opportunity to celebrate the traditions and legacies that exist within black families. “This project is unapologetically sentimental,” she says. “It is about love and how we connect and learn from those we consider family. We wanted the personal perspective and the absoluteness of that love to be evident in the title. We all loved how the Beloved lines’ story of renewal and connection dovetailed with family and the legacies that get passed down within them, and wanted to use the moment to spotlight and celebrate heritage in black British families.”