Matos doesn’t choose his subjects. Rather, he ‘bumps into photos just asking to be taken.’ He is drawn to the way certain outfits are creatively arranged, to loud colours and to garments with attitude. No two women, he reflects, seem to be dressed in the same way. Traditionally, the men of Darfur wear the jalabiyyeh and the women either don the abaya or drape several metres of colourful cloth around their bodies and heads in the form of a toub. Urban men, Matos explains, will wear pressed trousers and shirts to work, while women are fusing Middle Eastern and western styles. The result, he says, is an endless array of outfit combinations that always manage to stun. ‘I remember in particular these two girls,’ he recalls. ‘One had a colourful flower dress with a headscarf and a fake Chanel belt. I love how high-end fashion seems to trickle down until it ends up in the most far-flung corners of the world, worn by people who have probably never heard of the original brands. The other was Hamida, a 14-year old tea girl with an orange and black polka-dotted skirt. She had found a matching orange denim jacket somewhere and wore a bright yellow shirt under it to match her headscarf. She would have been labelled a hipster pretty much anywhere in the world.’
Modelled after the famous style blog The Sartorialist, Matos’ project has been well-received by both its Sudanese and international audience, all of whom are happy to see an alternative narrative to a city otherwise shrouded in tales of tragedy.
This article appears in the issue41Buy Now