SOMA Magazine May 2012 : Page 38
“The idea was that if you wore the garments, you wore a dream, or you were wearing my photographs.” with their texture. He explains the experience as, “The sheet, when you touched it, had a real fantastic sensation.” Soon, he’d unwittingly become a hoarder. “ I thought to myself, why have I got hundreds of sheets? What am I going to do with them?” The simple answer was to turn those linens into garments. Bolofo continues, “People have slept in these sheets. They contain unknown dreams.” Bolofo’s career has not lacked for highlights, he’s photo-graphed books with Venus Williams and Lord Snowdon; a docu-mentary, The Land is White, the Seed is Black , about his family’s story as South African refugees returning from England; and ads for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Dom Pérignon. Unexpectedly, shooting catalogs for Anthropologie brought the garment prototypes out from his archive boxes. He recounts, “Working with these people was very comfortable. They booked me again… same feeling, the type of girl and casting that I like.” An email arrived inquiring about projects beyond photog-raphy. Bolofo began thinking about his garment prototypes but resisted the urge to present the work, remembering earlier rejec-tions. When the email arrived again, he couldn’t ignore it. He says, “I’m going to go back in the cupboard and pull those prototypes out. I thought, I really love those proto-types and love the material. There’s a sense of deep, endur-ing love in this. I took four garments and four photographs 38 and wrapped it up with lavender.” Sending it off and expecting the garments soon to be returned, Bolofo was instead asked to visit Anthropologie’s Philadelphia headquarters to develop the concept into a col-lection. Bolofo says, “You always use the expression, ‘they are thinking out of the box’. Here it was no box at all. It was a dream that really came true.” When it came time to review the final collection, Bolofo expected the garments to fall short of his original hope. He says, “I thought I’d hear, ‘We couldn’t get this right and we couldn’t quite fabricate this’. I’ll be really happy that they did try at least, they did take me down this road.” But, he exclaims, “I couldn’t tell the difference between my prototypes and theirs. They really got it right.” In a series of capsule collaborations with Anthropologie, entitled Made in Kind, Koto Bolofo’s garments sit alongside notable designers such as Karen Walker, John Patrick, Samantha Pleet and Gregory Parkinson. His new book Dreams accompa-nies the collaboration, offering a visual story of the collection. So maybe Koto Bolofo is not a fashion designer. Perhaps he dreamt to become a designer, then forgot the dream. But some-one found his sheets and remembered this dream. And some-where in that abstraction, his work says Koto Bolofo can be both designer and photographer.