Unlike the majority of students intermittently held hostage by the pandemic, London-based artist, image-maker and self-taught designer Joseph Lokko flourished during lockdown. Graduating from Central Saint Martins’ fashion communication course in 2020, Lokko spent quarantine concentrating on his principal ongoing project – a series of self-portraits taken at home, dressed in his own highly stylised creations.
Drawing on the inspiration of 1980s Yves Saint Laurent, Victorian dolls’ dresses, and the paintings of John Singer Sargent, Lokko’s designs – which he fashions from scratch in his bedroom using inexpensive, synthetic, pinned fabrics and repurposed objects – are often distinctive for their exaggerated silhouettes and structural, puffed sleeves. Capturing his clothes in the portraits he takes at home, Lokko is the auteur of every aspect of the image… not only designing and making the garments, but composing and shooting each picture, and starring in the photographs too. The incongruent normalcy of a domestic setting, with radiators, generic furnishings, and discarded pouches of tobacco still in shot, serves to amplify the playful grandeur of his creations.
Having caught the eye of Christopher and Tammy Kane, the founders of Christopher Kane, Lokko was invited by the British fashion brand to create self-portraits for their 2020 Festive Collection campaign, a celebration of glamour amid the gloom of lockdowns. More recently, his clothes have been shot by venerated fashion photographer Nick Knight. And, earlier this year, Lokko was invited to shoot and style Sky Ferreira for the autumn 2022 issue of Dazed. His portraits of Ferreira are permeated by the same sense of playing with gender binaries and identity that defines his own self-portraits, immortalising the sullen singer in androgynous Thom Browne tailoring and achieving Lokko’s self-proclaimed goal of creating a “feast for the eyes”.
Text Emily Dinsdale