For their Fall 2020 campaign, premium denim brand 7 For All Mankind debuted ’70s-inspired, high-waisted jeans, flattering leather fits, and a message of connection and community, shifting the lens away from the models and celebrities that have long served as subjects. Instead, the company scoured the globe for inspiring creatives that embodied the 20-year-old brand’s values. Seven shoots were held: two in London, two in New York, one in Berlin, and two in Dallas.
On the day of the “We Are Made For This” campaign launch, we spoke with our two influential local forces. Here, Carolina Alvarez-Mathies, art museum executive at the Dallas Contemporary and the embodiment of “Curiosity” for 7 For All Mankind, and Abolaji Ogundele, an ethical fashion designer who practices physical therapy at local hospitals and embodies “Authenticity” in the campaign, discuss their thoughts on the city, life in the pandemic, and what they hoped to convey from the at-home shoot.
PaperCity: How did it feel to be asked to be a part of the 7 For All Mankind campaign? Do you feel like you get to represent Dallas?
Carolina Alvarez-Mathies: As a young Latina who recently made the DFW area home, I viewed my participation as a representation of the growth and constant influx of new energies and ideas that come to the metroplex.
Abolaji Ogundele: I was slightly shocked but more confused than anything. I honestly wasn’t sure if the campaign was coming from a legitimate source, but thankfully the team was super transparent and forthcoming about the campaign details. I was elated to team up with 7 For All Mankind, a company I have esteemed since I was introduced to them in high school over 15 years ago.
I feel that Dallas has such an eclectic mix of people, from ethnicity, culture, background, style, interests, and tastes, which is what I appreciate about the city. As a North Texas native, it’s hard for me to say “This is what a Dallasite looks like;” although there are strong opinions out on that. In my interactions, I guess I see the people of Dallas through this eclectic lens. I believe I reflect some aspect of that mix.
PaperCity: Abolaji, physical therapy in hospitals is always necessary, but particularly now. How has the pandemic experience been?
Abolaji Ogundele: The pandemic has changed life as we know it, but the way I perform my role as a physical therapist hasn’t drastically altered. I’m still treating acutely ill patients as before COVID-19, but with more protections in place for the health of patients and providers. Don’t get me wrong, in the early days of the pandemic uncertainty was widespread in healthcare around the country. As new information became available, healthcare and the way we did our jobs moved and changed to accommodate this devastating virus. Thankfully, I’m able to continue helping patients as I always have.
PaperCity: Carolina, how do you bring that representation of “Curiosity” to the Dallas arts scene?
Carolina Alvarez-Mathies: Reacquainting myself with the DFW area after 10 years in New York City has been incredible. That sense of inquiry, of wanting to make a place feel like home… It has led me to quickly build a nice network of friends from various fields here.
My being Deputy Director at Dallas Contemporary has also afforded me a look into the vibrant arts and cultural scene. There is so much talent in Dallas, from young chefs to tech entrepreneurs, to artists and musicians. I find myself constantly inspired.
PaperCity: Abolaji, tell us more about your fashion designs.
Abolaji Ogundele: Within the last year, I’ve been focused on making designs based on personally drafted patterns, which is no easy thing. What I create is typically menswear-inspired, which I quaintly refer to as “Le Femme Tomboy.” I’ve always loved balance in clothing, and I love to play with feminine and masculine-mixed silhouettes. I create within my 700-square-foot apartment and have designated sewing space outfitted with a computerized sewing machine, serger machine, and loads of notions and other necessary equipment.
PaperCity: It’s so fascinating to have a portrait taken during this time. Was there anything you hoped to convey or capture in the images?
Abolaji Ogundele: As a Black-Nigerian-American woman, I’m always keenly aware that I convey something to others in most, if not every circumstance in public. In these portraits, not only did I want to convey “Authenticity,” but I want viewers to grow a wider view and appreciation of the fact that Black women are not a monolith. I wanted to convey that Black women are beautifully complex and have creative agency over the unique and colorful lives we live. What we are and what we produce as Black women is so valuable.
Carolina Alvarez-Mathies: Ha! This is a hard one. I think I’d have to say a sense of vulnerability. I am unsure if it was something I was trying to do, but it’s what it felt like. Being open to showing my home and daily life. I so enjoyed the process. In the background, one is privy so many details of my life. If you pay close attention you learn a bit about who I am, what I read, what art I collect. See, it’s all about curiosity.