Meet The BFC's New Wave: Creatives 2020

by Hetty Mahlich on 30 November 2020

Ahead of the first virtual Fashion Awards, this year's New Wave: Creatives share what creativity means to them.

Ahead of the first virtual Fashion Awards, this year's New Wave: Creatives share what creativity means to them.

Just like the rest of the London fashion schedule, the Fashion Awards 2020 is going fully digital. Ahead of the awards on Thursday 3 December 2020, today the British Fashion Council announced this year's New Wave: Creatives list. Now in its third year, the extensive list elevates a new generation of talent from across the industry, spotlighting the most exciting and innovative individuals working in fashion. From photographers, artists, activists, casting agents and commentators, to florists, stylists and hair and make-up artists, an initial list of 100 was selected by last year's winners as part of a new voting system which encourages intergenerational support between one fashion peer and another. The final 50 creatives announced today, have been chosen by a committee of industry figureheads including Tim Blanks and Naomi Campbell. Facing an uncertain future, the BFC's continued support of emerging talent couldn't be more prescient.

The finalists of the New Wave Creatives 2020 list feature a host of SHOWstudio alumnae. Director and artist Agusta Yr, stylist and creative director Betsy Johnson, photographer Quil Lemons and presenter Trey 'Trey' Gaskin are amongst those recognised for their contributions to fashion. The extensive list also features the likes of poet, model and activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal, photographer Rafael Pavarotti, make-up artist Valentino Li, casting director Nicola Kast and artist Marlou Fernanda.

SHOWstudio spoke with some of the finalists to find out more about their creative process and what making the list means to them.

Rafael Pavarotti - photographer

The Brazilian photographer has harnessed a distinct and vivid visual language, much of Pavaortti's work focuses on representing the Black body, and sees him frequently teaming up with stylist Ibrahim Kamara. Having recently created a cover for one volume of the LOVE Diaries, his work has appeared in titles such as Vogue and i-D.

What does creativity mean to you in 2020?
For me, creativity is about how you perceive the world and how it feels to you. It is how you transform something that is not yet tactile, that has no definition, into something that can be observed and turned into reality. It is love in the most different forms, which touches people's hearts and transforms. This particular year has changed people and realities around the planet, and creativity as a mirror of society has followed the same path, representing the zeitgeist of existence. 

How has the past year shaped you as a creative?
All the events of the past year have changed the way we live life, changed people and society as a whole. I believe that we, as humans, as beings, are in a process of constant transformation and evolution. I have learned to be even more grateful for life and everything it represents. The beauty of the essence became stronger and made my purpose, the path I want to follow clearer. I believe that we can be better and that we should send our message out to the world, helping in whatever way we can. 

What does being included as part of the final 50 New Wave: Creatives list mean to you?
It is a dream come true. It is an honour to be surrounded by people I admire so much. It brings confirmation that I am where I should be, working and believing in my creativity.

Kai-Isaiah Jamal - poet, model and activist

Jamal was the London ICA's first poet in residence, and has worked with brands including Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney and Charles Jeffrey. Dey are a trans visibility activist, and uses poetry to educate about and celebrate the Black queer experience.

What does creativity mean to you in 2020?
This year creativity has shifted, it's had to with the state of the world. For numerous reasons we have been forced to find new ways to do things. I think in the birthing of the new it has pulled creativity from different parts, mediums and formats. It also was the year in which I realised and learned the power of creativity and the creative. The arts sphere is what shapes cultural conversations; archiving, historical artefacts, expression and documenting are all vital in how things are remembered. For me personally, much of my creativity is laced in proving I/we existed, leaving something behind.

How has the past year shaped you as a creative?
This year started with me believing that there was a duty for my creativity and activism to snowball into one, which throughout the year, I came to realising isn’t the case. Often as marginalised people - and especially someone who is visible - there is a feeling of duty to use your creative outlet to also further messages, we maybe feel obliged to give parts of ourselves we shouldn’t. This year forced me to find ways to create and capture joy in a time and world that can make you feel as if that was wrong or less interesting. I’ve used new mediums and processes, flipped gazes, critiqued past works and read so much. It has been a pivotal point in my creative journey I’m sure. 

What does being included as part of the final 50 New Wave: Creatives list mean to you?
Firstly, it’s an honour. I am always humbled by acknowledgement of what I do when there is so much brilliance around me from friends, peers and family. Of all years, this year feels like the biggest reward. It has been a gruelling year for us all and I wanted to find new or alternative ways to make people think and feel with both my work and my intentions, which has led me to many amazing opportunities and stages with audiences bigger than I could have expected to reach. It feels amazing to be seen so publicly in the entirety of who I am, to be celebrated by that means even more. There have been times where it feels like it is impossible to be and this reminds me the only impossibility is to be anything else. All I hope to be is a mirror; that we as black, trans, marginalised people will always be at the core of so much that makes this industry what it is, that we too deserve an applaud. I hope I can not only represent myself in this 50 but also the community that grew me and I continue to grow with. 

Agusta Yr - stylist, creative director

The Icelandic film director and artist works across video, photography and 3D, drawing on the cultural differences she encountered in her upbringing whilst growing up between Miami and Iceland. The SHOWstudio collaborator's immersive work has seen her collaborate frequently with designer Sinéad O'Dwyer and brands including Moschino, Gucci, Charles Jeffrey and Yang Li.

What does creativity mean to you in 2020?
Creativity has been my saviour in 2020. Being able to release emotions, anxiety, sadness, happiness etc. through making art has helped me stay sane, and for all the darkness of this year being able to find power in creativity has been such a bright spot. 

How has the past year shaped you as a creative?
This past year has been hands down my busiest work year yet. I think as a whole I’ve worked more than I’ve slept. I’ve had to come up with solutions to problems in lockdown and make it work within the guidelines. Being a 3D artist has made a lot of that work within lockdown guidelines possible, but I’ve also been developing a lot of work that mixes 3D with traditional filmmaking, which creates endless possibilities. 

What does being included as part of the final 50 New Wave: Creatives list mean to you?
Being a part of the final 50 New Waves Creatives means the world to me. With my work I always want to be pushing boundaries and that’s something that can sometimes go unnoticed, so when I saw the list of the judges my jaw dropped. To receive this kind of recognition from people I admire so much is unbelievably rewarding.

Valentina Li - make-up artist

Li is a Chinese make-up artist whose conceptual looks merge face painting and sculpture, and see her working with innovative new materials and fabrics. Li, who hails from a small town in Southwest China, has collaborated with brands including Valentino and Saint Laurent, together with publications such as Vogue China.

What does creativity mean to you in 2020?
Creativity means free thinking without boundaries. In 2020, most of us have been locked down for a period of time. I think especially in this moment, we got a chance to really discover creativity by being alone and listening to our inner thoughts. It is a perfect time for us to be more creative under this circumstance.

How has the past year shaped you as a creative?
Due to the pandemic I have had a lot of time to think, and throughout the year I’ve been testing suitable materials to create new makeup looks. Movies and nature are the biggest source for my creativity.

What does being included as part of the final 50 New Wave: Creatives list mean to you?
I couldn't believe it for the first few minutes, it truly means so much! It gives me more confidence and encouragement to keep doing what I love. I am thrilled to be recognised and I will try my best to put 100 percent of my passion into my career as a makeup artist and be always creative. Thank you!

Marlou Fernanda - artist

Fernanda is perhaps best known for her painted self-portraits together with her work as a performance artist and director. The self-taught artist has created live performances for institutes including the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and worked as a creative director with artists such as Sevdaliza.

What does creativity mean to you in 2020?
My creativity has always set me truly free, and this year I became more and more aware of that, simply because it was needed. Even though 2020 has been an emotional roller coaster, through creating I was able to remain sane, I was able to reflect on the world around me and to respond to it. If I only had 5 Seconds to think about 'creativity' my first response would be 'finding another way'.

How has the past year shaped you as a creative?
I must say that being locked-down with my boyfriend, Gogo Lupin, was one of the best experiences I've had. We suddenly had so much time to observe one another so he opened my eyes to a lot of flaws within my business. He probably doesn't know how much he has taught me, that he has eventually helped me to overcome some of my fears and doubts. He became my mentor, which is the reason why I feel like I'm thriving again. The reason why I'm feeling playful yet super intentional again. In this short period of time I've grown so much stronger. Coming out of a season where I've felt like I've almost lost myself, this made me able to flourish again. The vision is stronger than ever now.

What does being included as part of the final 50 New Wave: Creatives list mean to you?
Recognition. Because sometimes it feels like no one is watching you and all the hard work you put in. This really confirmed to me that I'm on the right track so I'm grateful.

Nicola Kast - casting director

German-born and raised in South Africa, Kast is now based in New York. Clients include Rejina Pyo, Coach, Missoni and Dior, with Kast also having worked with publications such as Purple, Vogue China, and M Le Monde.

What does creativity mean to you in 2020?

Creativity for me is a form of escapism. As a casting director I don't necessarily have to travel, I can do all of my work on my computer. I feel lucky in that way, especially in 2020. I work off of my intuition and how things make sense to me in my head. Once I know the theme of a shoot or runway show, and the photographer, stylist and designer, I start putting the pieces together and connecting the dots. After I meet a model and spend some time with them, I get ideas of what kind of projects they would be good for. I find the process really exciting, when things start to fall into place. I love exchanges with teams and pushing myself to find the right model/talent for a shoot, it's fulfilling. That's when I'm at my most creative.

How has the past year shaped you as a creative?
It's been a challenging year. I've found myself having a lot of talks with friends. How we are all feeling, what we think the future of the industry will be. Creatively I've been exchanging shoot ideas we can plan in 2021 or 2022. That's been keeping me busy during the times that we haven't been able to work or travel. In that way I've been able to push myself creatively and think more outside the box.

What does being included as part of the final 50 New Wave: Creatives list mean to you?
It means a lot to be recognised by the fashion community. Especially during a time like this. I'm grateful and it's inspired me to push myself further next year. 

Quil Lemons - photographer

Lemons is a Brooklyn-based African American photographer, and their work endeavours to represent community. Lemons often draws on themes such as the internet, queerness, popular culture, Blackness and masculinity, with projects such as 'Glitter Boy'. Their work has featured in titles such as GQ, The New York Times and HighSnobiety.

What does creativity mean to you in 2020?

How has the past year shaped you as a creative?

I was able to make some of my best work this year in a new series of my family titled, To Say The Same Thing In Many Different Ways. This year forced me out of my comfort zone and challenged me as a human and in that discomfort I think I truly became an artist. 2020 is a year of extreme growth.

What does being included as part of the final 50 New Wave: Creatives list mean to you?

I have never been to the this is pretty cool. A little strange because I’m like 'Aye who told y’all people about me?' But then I realised I’ve done a lot of big shit this year, and it’s impact has stretched far beyond my home country. In all seriousness, I’m really honoured. 



Best in Show: Agusta Yr

20 November 2019
Artist Agusta Yr talks through look #16 from Moschino's S/S 20 womenswear collection.
Live Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion: Black Is Still The New Black

27 October 2020
Trey Trey is joined by make-up artist Crystabel Riley, stylist and editor KK Obi and journalists Eni Subair and Dominic Cadogan to discuss working as black creatives in the fashion industry.

The British Fashion Council Looks To A Brighter Future With 2020 'New Wave: Creatives'

17 November 2020
A stellar new committee featuring the likes of Adut Akech, Charles Jeffrey and Isamaya Ffrench will select fifty creatives who are leading fashion towards a more positive future.
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