Ivorian fashion designer Loza Maléombho draws from her culture and history for her latest collection, title “Queen Pokou.”
According to Maléombho,
Queen Pokou, or Awura, Aura, or Abla Pokou (c. 1730–1750) was Queen and founder of the Baoule (Baule) tribe in West Africa, in what is today the Ivory Coast. She ruled over a branch of the powerful Ashanti Empire as it expanded westward. (Also known as the Akan people) They became the ancestors of the largest tribe of modern Ivory Coast.
Queen Pokou was born a princess of Kumasi in Ghana, daughter of Nyakou Kosiamoa, sister of Dakon and niece of Osei Kofi Tutu I, a formidable king and co-founder of the Ashanti Empire.
Queen Pokou became leader of a breakaway group from the main Ashanti Confederacy, which she refused to join. Disagreements among the factions resulted in war in Ghana. She then decided to leave and lead her people westward, through a long journey to the Komoe River. She asked her priest how to cross the river safely, and he told her a sacrifice was required. Pokou sacrificed her son, throwing the infant into the water and calling out “Ba ouli”, “the child is dead”. It is for this reason that her descendants are today known as the Baoule. After the sacrifice, hippopotamuses appeared and formed a bridge, by which Pokou and her people crossed to the other side.
After crossing the river, Pokou and her people settled into an agricultural way of life in the savannah of the area. The Baoule people today inhabit the territory between the Komoe and Bandama Rivers. The Baoule people are the largest tribe in modern Ivory Coast, having assimilated some smaller tribes over the centuries.
The lookbook for the collection is set in LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery, an art space located in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. We can even catch a glimpse of images from Maléombho’s ongoing series “Alien Edits” in the background.
Model: Fanta’ Styck
Photography: Daniel Sery Photographe
Location: LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery