Alessandro Michele, Suriname and the challenge of creativity

Noukhey Forster

Noukhey Forster (25) is an all-round creative working in the fields of cultural events and fashion. Event management, marketing, styling, art-direction and everything in-between are things that keep him busy on a daily basis. He is also the founder of OHIM CONCEPTS; a fashion platform where inspiring and fashion-forward brands are shared, to inspire - in particular - men to step out of their comfort zones when it comes to fashion. Not to mention, Noukhey is responsible for the men’s department of Amsterdam based concept-store MY-OH-MY and under this label he works together with photographers and models to create inspiring editorials.

What does awareness means to you?
For me awareness means being aware of yourself and your environment. The most important thing is to know yourself; where you come from, where you are at this very moment in your life and where you want to go. I believe that this knowledge can show you how you can help your environment en how your environment can help you to get where you want to be. 
What do you find inspiring in the fashion, art and design industry?
The fact that it is constantly developing and you can’t be too young or too old to participate in this industry. The possibilities are limitless. I also like the fact that the level of creativity is rising with all the new modern possibilities and the globalization. In addition, I find it inspiring that you can tell whole stories and convey messages through fashion, art and design, like important events in history and predictions for the future. On the other hand fashion, art and design provide us a reliable picture of here and now.
Tell us 3 people that you find inspiring and why?
There are so many new designers, but Grace Wales Bonner happens to catch my attention. Grace is only 25, but has already received a British Fashion Award! Grace is a young designer, but she discusses heavy social issues through her designs focusing on black male sexuality, masculine identity, and cultural experience. She’s one of the few designers who really contribute to a diverse industry by choosing models from all kinds of cultural backgrounds. With her designs, inspired by her black heritage, she demonstrates parts of her culture on a big platform.
Virgil Abloh inspires me a lot as well. Not only is he the owner of the fashion label Off-White, he’s also creative director for Kanye West. The projects that he did with Kanye shows us that music and fashion are inextricably connected. Virgil not only cross borders put he’s also pushing them. With his designs, models and concepts he aim to establish new borders in the fashion industry; he brought street wear to the runways and with his unisex clothing he shows that we men en women can wear the same.
And Alessandro Michele, the new Creative Director of Gucci. Even though Gucci has always been a brand with high quality clothing and one of the biggest luxury brands of all time, their collections were not refreshing and appealing to me: Every season looked the same. Due to Alessandro the collections started to change: The designs were innovative and young, and the styling so refreshing. Not only did he surprise the fashion industry – nobody really expected this – he also surprised and inspired me: it is possible for one person to change the whole perspective of a brand.
What do you find lacking/bothering/frustrating about the fashion, art and design industry?
I like working in the fashion industry because it’s a way to show people what’s on you mind and to be creative. But unfortunately your creativity can easily be challenged since working with high quality materials and people cost a certain investment and it’s sometimes difficult to find the right people to work with, one that share the same vision.  
Name three countries you think were most special to travel to and where you have learned more about other cultures and diversity. And what have you learned?
Suriname for the many different cultures living together in one country. In spite of their own cultural values, they managed to share one Surinam culture too. But for this to happen, I think it’s important that every sub-culture acknowledge the other sub-culture as a part of the general (over-all) culture.
Morocco for the diversity of people; during my roadtrip from Casablanca to Marrakesh (and back) I met so many different people. For example, I met the Berber-people n the mountains and I was shocked when I saw how much similarities they share with me or my family (with Surinam roots). In Europe, we have an idea of how people in this or that country should look like but that’s often not the case in reality. 
Kenya; When I tell people I went to Kenya lots of people seems to be shocked, maybe because that’s out of their comfort zone. But growing up, my mom always brought us (me and my siblings) to these kinds of unexpected places. I think traveling is the best education one can get. To understand people you have to get to know them first! In Kenya I was really surprised about their social interaction towards tourists and people in general. Simple things like saying ‘Hi’ to - I’m pretty sure – every passenger is one of the most normal things to them. It seems that we forgot these kinds of interaction here in Europe more often. 
How do you use gender, identity and diversity in creating your own work?
For OHIM CONCEPTS I’m always looking at the overall look my brand will give to new followers. I hope that my brand will show diversity in the people I work with.