The power of connectivity is at the heart of Lakwena and Fiorucci’s bold collaboration. “My name means ‘messenger’ in Acholi,” says London-based artist, Lakwena. “It’s about speaking truth and hope into spaces.”
This week, their short film starring a gospel choir – encapsulating Lakwena’s idea of speaking truth and delivering an uplifting message of joy, perhaps in a time when we need it most – is projected high over Knightsbridge.
But Lakwena’s work has been seen internationally: from Tate Britain to Somerset House and Facebook, to a juvenile detention centre in Arkansas and a monastery in Vienna. Lakwena employs bright colour in paintings, which can be understood as “escape routes; afrofuturistic portals to utopia”.
Drawing upon Fiorucci’s archive and its original book Tyes and Tribes, “the clothes were almost secondary, the primary thing was about musicians and artists uniting and the organic creativity that ensued,” explains Lakwena.
Disco is the essence of Fiorucci, and for Lakwena, Gospel is central. In celebration of Black History Month, the brands staged a unifying London celebration, complete with Afro Caribbean canapés by King the Chef and harmonies of the Soul Sound Gospel Choir.
In reverence of Keith Haring – who collaborated with Fiorucci in the ’70s and ’80s and straddled the world of fine art as well as street art – this immersive crossover demonstrates the potential for greater accessibility to art.
In fashion terms, Lakwena has seized the chance to adorn the wearer in visible culture. A satin colour-block bomber is accompanied by hoodies, sweatshirts and T-shirts featuring an original hand motif by Lakwena, in a gesture of praise. After creating this collection during lockdown, her reverie has come to fruition. “It’s about having fun – the spirit of the collection is of celebrating life together,” adds Lakwena.