Ann Hanna in More Intelligent Life:
As a teenager growing up in Peckham, an ethnically diverse area of London, the photographer Nadine Ijewere observed the way that the women around her dressed. The neighbourhood “aunties”, as all older women were known, paired Nigerian patterns with Gucci handbags and Burberry motifs; they would style their afro hair in a way that was almost sculptural. Ijewere was interested in fashion photography, but she began to notice that the prints and hairstyles she saw everyday didn’t appear in magazines. She didn’t understand why these “pieces of art in themselves” were not more visible. At weekends, she would take photographs of her friends, many of whom were of mixed heritage like her, in the local park.
In 2018, at the age of 26, Ijewere became the first black woman to shoot a Vogue magazine cover, featuring the singer Dua Lipa draped in white feathers. Ijewere soon became known for her ethereal backdrops, her work with mixed-race models and her meticulous attention to black hair. In 2020, she did another photoshoot with Vogue, which accompanied a piece praising Nigerian “aunties”. The women in the shoot wore traditional head wraps and metallic floral and chequered prints in clashing colours. “I looked at those photographs and saw the women I grew up with,” Ijewere said. “I saw my heritage. And it was special.”