KOMONO x BALOJI words Andrea Ward - photography Kyle Weeks
Belgian eyewear and accessories label KOMONO has fused its sleek design aesthetic and bold inspired color palette with the uniqueness of multifaceted creative Baloji for a fresh and out of this world collaboration. Baloji is responsible for merging African music to French tradition and Afro-American beats in a way only Baloji can do. His sound was discovered through testing and combining electronic music from the Belgium region where he grew up with all his other influences. Baloji is not only a poet, composer-lyricist, and beatmaker but a scriptwriter, actor, performer, video artist and stylist proving that he is without a doubt the epitome of multifaceted creativity.
For the launch of Baloji's newest video, titled "Zombie", KOMONO has taken on the brilliant task of creating a capsule collection with Baloji which brings together the best of both worlds. Baloji is recognized by his unique, savvy, and forward-thinking style which have been translated into four bold and eye-catching styles that make a tribute to the people who most influenced him as an artist. On the other side of the table, KOMONO brings their perfect craftsmanship and technology to create fashionable, functional, and high-quality eyewear.
The collection is intimately linked to the visual work done for "Zombie" where a journey between hope and dystopia starts. Fueled by a feeling of euphoria in a "hallucinated Kinshasa" (the Democratic Republic of the Congo) the video captures life as it happens; from the hair salon to the solitary futuristic clubbing, "Zombie" is a testament of Kinshasa culture packed with the electrifying energy Baloji creates.
For the capsule collection, Baloji has drawn inspiration from four personalities that have greatly inspired him these being; Mwana Kitoko, Pierre Mandjeku “Dizzy”, Tshala Muana AKA the Congolese Donna Summer, and his mother. The over-sized Kitoko frame takes its inspiration from 1980s hip-hop styling and by the glasses worn by Baudouin I, the Belgian king (1951-1993), nicknamed “Mwana Kitoko”, meaning ‘beautiful white man’, or ‘handsome young man’ in Lingala.
Pierre Mandjeku “Dizzy” mastered the Congolese musical revolutions over fifty years and has recently joined Baloji on stage. Baloji sees Dizzy as not only a friend but a role model, surrogate father, and one of the most powerful and elegant musicians of our times.
Tshala Muana - or the Congolese Donna Summer - is considered a living legend whose hypnotic trance rhythms have found a natural extension in a secular dance called the Mutuashi. Muana's music is not only great to dance to but are packed with real questions and social issues faced by African society especially by women. She is a feminist and an advocate for women empowerment and has become a symbol of change and forward-thinking. She inspired Baloji to create the Tshala style with gold rims that speak of tenderness, value, and resilience.
The fourth style, Mujinga, is inspired by Baloji’s mother and makes a heartfelt homage to her. It is a celebration to her "almond-shaped eyes" that the artist recognized amidst the crowds in Lubumbashi market when they met for the first time after 25 years. This beautiful and powerful reunion inspired the “Cat’s Eye” shape where the gold emphasizes the eyebrows while making a reference to the dense melancholy found in her.
KOMONO adds the malachite acetate element to the collection, something that has been a constant feature in their collections and was exclusively developed by the Belgian brand. The collaboration is formed by constrating stories and features, seeing different cultures colliding in perfect harmony while providing an in-depth look into what has inspired Baloji to become the iconic artist he is.
The KOMONO x Baloji capsule collection is now available at komono.com