Ladene Clark, New York Soho.
13th April, 2013.
As far as shooting on the street style is concerned, this is one subject that I often think about and keep coming back to in terms of one of the times when I got lucky and really nailed it. Ladene was inside a bookstore in Soho when spotted her walking down Prince Street. So taken was I by her appearance–and this has only happened one other time that I can remember–that I resolved myself to waiting outside the store until she came out to ask her for a photo. It must have been a twenty minute wait (or ten, but it was a long time ago), but as soon as she stepped out of the store, a tourist couple intercepted her as I was crossing the street and asked her to pose for a photo. Damn, I thought, if she turns them down this whole thing is ruined. But Ladene acquiesced their request, stood on the sidewalk for a photo and nodded politely as the tourists went on about how fabulous her style was as if she’d heard it 100 times already … that day. Surely then, she’d rolled her eyes and float off when approached by a second camera. But I didn’t care.
Quick tangent: This is something that I’ve written about just a few times on Lord Ashbury in the past, but when I first started walking around New York City back in 2012, I was really enlightened to strides I saw happening in and around black fashion; while hair and shoes have long been a priority for decades, the shift out of the traditional hip hop culture into something more sartorial (and eventually giving it back to the community) both inspired me and gave me reason to seek it out. Back then, there was Prince and there was Lenny Kravitz and Kanye was rapping about about fashion and A$AP Rocky was starting to garner national attention, but names like Raf Simons and Rick Owens still belonged almost exclusively to the upper echelons of the white community. When LeBron James and Russell Westbrook would wear designer glasses to post-game interviews, people thought it was weird. When Kevin Durant toted around his little backpack, people thought it was really weird. But I digress; all of those people are famous.
So in a way, Ladene was the very first real-life example of sartorial black excellence for someone who wasn’t overtly famous, at least not in a national attention kind of way. It was imperative for me to do her portrait justice, so I took two distinctively different portraits of her (which was also notably one of the first times I’d ever done this) – one to capture her overall look and awesomeness, and one focusing just on her dreadlocks.
There are just a few people out there who walk around like rock stars because that’s just who they are, and Ladene Clark is no different.