Style Tracks.

Louis Philippe de Gagoue likes to deviate from compartmentalisation in his life and his work—which is what makes the photographer and style icon, who spends his time between the Ivory Coast and Paris, so successful.

Louis Philippe de Gagoue takes fashion photos filled with beauty — and is always the most beautiful himself. This is evident to everybody who has scrolled through his social media profiles. Louis in brown leather trousers with a royal-blue cummerbund in Rome. Louis in an asymmetrical camel-coloured tailored suit in Casablanca. Louis in a black ensemble with a box-red belt masterfully looped around his waist in Paris. Past decades, foreign cultures, literature and film — Louis can draw inspiration from anything. ‘The most important source, however, is studying your inner self,’ he says.

Louis was born in 1991 in the Ivory Coast, his father’s home country, and his mother comes from Cameroon. ‘When I looked through my family’s photo albums as a child, I noticed how well dressed my family always were. My father, my mother, my aunties were looking so chic and elegant, very well dressed in beautiful gowns, hats, gloves. My father was such a dandy,' he says in a buttery, soft accent. ‘I thought to myself, “I want a life like that one day.” Seeing beautiful things, smiling, parties, drinking champagne, traveling around the world, meeting people from all over the world.’ That’s how he got his start in fashion — from his fascination in people and their clothes. Today, Louis splits his time between the Ivory Coast and Paris, where he is represented by the renowned agency Artsphere.

As a photographer? Not exactly. Louis is considered to be more of an artist who guides avant-garde, independent magazines, or international editions of well-known magazines like Vogue, in their fashion imagery, from concept and styling right up to the technical factors. He takes on both the photographer and stylist roles in almost all of his projects. Quotes about his African home, references to European style, and visions of futuristic fashion merge into a succinct aesthetic that addresses the themes of culture and cultures using hypermodern imagery.

Afrofuturism? ‘In a modern context, I don’t feel myself as a part of this movement. I’m proud to be African and a child of this beautiful place, but I don’t want to be associated with this movement because my inspirations aren’t only coming from Africa — I find beauty in all the different cultures around the world,’ says Louis. The cultural movement known as Afrofuturism since the late 1990s  reinterprets creative works — ranging from science fiction to fantasy, from historical novels to realism — in terms of the reality of life and life plans of the African diaspora,  but is a reductive way to describe Louis’s work, in his opinion. ‘I see myself as more of a world citizen,’ he says. However, he does respect the political genre — which is becoming increasingly sought-after in the fashion industry, and can involve all facets of art, from literature to paintings and film — just like he respects the ‘sapeurs’, another movement that originated in Africa.

Since the early 1920s, sapeurs have dressed in a sophisticated and elegant way – partially in direct contrast with their sometimes precarious circumstances in life. Starting in the 1960s, the playful fashion movement has turned into a political one, which simultaneously determines and provides an ironic response to the dogma of the post-colonial era. ‘I have a great deal of respect for sapeurs — they took risks,’ says Louis. ‘At the end of the day, we live in a society where people are forced to conform and follow commercially influenced principles.’ However, he doesn’t feel a deeper connection to the ideology and fashion of the sapeurs. ‘I’m just me, anything else is just a label. And labels exist to let other people categorize you. I don’t categorize myself, I’m just a free bird.’

In fact, Louis lives in a bubble that he wishes to invite the people viewing his photographs into. His website says: ‘For him, photography is a form of utopia — an escape from our everyday world that is eaten up by war and conflict.’ The photographer wants to transport his audience away from this version of the world. ‘I have selective perception and a selective memory as well,’ Louis says, laughing. ‘If something interests me, I take it all in. If something doesn’t interest me, I close my eyes so as not to see it.’ Nevertheless, Louis knows all too well what’s going on around him. For years now, discourse on the underrepresentation of people of African descent in the Eurocentric fashion industry — including models, designers, photographers — has been ramping up.

However, things are slowly changing. Designers like Kenyan-born Sam Jairo Omindo have been helping African fashion shows, such as Fashion Week in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia or the International Fashion Festival in Morocco, to gain significance. Additionally, the label Super Yaya from Louis’s home country, Ivory Coast, has made a niche for its trendy streetwear, somewhere between Afrofuturism and digital-savvy Post-Internet Art. And yet: ‘I know that there are still a lot of narrow-minded people around, of course — even in the fashion industry.’ says Louis. ‘But I don’t like to be the victim. I’ve never seen myself as a victim and will never let myself be made into one.’

As such, COMPANION asked Louis to make a playlist that is as hard to pigeonhole as he is himself.

 

→ louisphilippedegagoue.com

 

More Articles

More Info

Diving into The Forest

Nature, awareness, deceleration, meditation: 'shinrin-yoku', meaning 'bathing in the forest', is a recognised treatment in Japan. It's also spreading to Germany as a by-product of the general mindfulness trend. Why is it so popular? What does the bathing part involve? Accompanied by two guides, partners Carlos Ponte and Emma Wisser, COMPANION headed off to the Mangfall Valley, close to Munich, to test the waters and discover what this activity is all about. Between the trees and wet earth, we learned something about the healing qualities of the forest - and about ourselves as well.

More Info

The Science of Scent

Subtle and seductive, the aroma molecule Iso E Super was created in a laboratory in 1973. In 2006, the master perfumer Geza Schön bottled it pure to create Molecule 01 - a fragrance that fast gained a cult following the world over. Many more scents later, COMPANION visited Schön at his Berlin apartment and lab to get a whiff of the chemistry behind his 'anti-fragrances', and glean his take on the wellness industry's obsession with nature (hint: it's overrated).

More Info

Happy Go Vienna

Once again, Vienna has been named the most liveable city in the world. Horse-drawn carriages, Sachertorte chocolate gateau, 'Küss die Hand' - really now? Oh yes, says Zara Pfeifer. Thirteen years ago, she came here from Cologne to study and, bar a few short hiatuses, has stayed ever since.

More Info

Petit Paris

In all its sophistication, Paris often feels very grown up. But the pleasures it holds for pint-sized bon vivants are manifold, if you know where to look. Xavi Vega, general manager of the new 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord and father of two-year-old Sofia, helped us plot out the city's treasures for les petits. The Catalan-born Francophile first moved to Paris in 2009, and returned in 2016, after a short intermezzo in Madrid. Together with his wife, he delights in raising his daughter amidst the culture, cuisine, intellectual rigour, and simple pleasures the city so elegantly embraces. Here are his secrets to sharing the Parisian art de vivre with your little ones on a weekend in and around Paris.

More Info

Marseille Mon Amour

A Mediterranean climate and laid-back urban flair on the Côte d’Azur: Marseille certainly has more to offer than its reputation would reveal. The lively international port city, with its 300 days of sun per year and a particular passion for bouillabaisse and pastis, was long considered the French Naples, ruled by criminal gangs and the violence of its ‘French Connection’ mafia. Much has changed since then. In 2013, Marseille was named the European Capital of Culture, and pocketed significant subsidies that were invested in polishing up its appearance. France’s second-largest city now attracts growing numbers of creative minds and artists. Hot on their heels are the galleries, hip boutiques, and cafés. For the younger French generation especially, Marseilles is becoming a real alternative to the exorbitantly priced Paris due to its affordable standard of living — with a view of the sea included.

More Info

Vin à la Parisienne

For a long time, wine was a man's game. However, a team of young French women are now transforming the industry - with organic and natural wines, which are neither chaptalised nor acidified, and with no tannin powder or added sulphites. They are produced as they were centuries ago, under the motto: less is more. Two women champions of natural wine tell us their story.


back to
top
now we are talking.

Special insights into the world of 25hours and local news – register here!