Sign In This Curious Life

Sign in

Fashioning a New Narrative

September 2023 – George Lee

Theme: Clothing

Fashioning a new narrative:
Malik Afegbua challenges stereotypes

In December 2022, the world witnessed a truly remarkable and heartwarming event that got millions of us around the world talking: an AI-powered fashion show that celebrated older models. This groundbreaking initiative was created by the film maker  Malik Afegbua. Fast forward to September of this year (2023), and Malik’s AI-driven fashion show which went viral has now inspired a real-life fashion revolution, with Malik taking his AI Fashion Show for Senior around the world. This Curious Life sat down with Malik to delve deeper into what inspired him and the connection between virtual creativity and real-world impact to help break down age stereotypes.

Ai image of older man and woman on runway

Malik’s inspiration for the Fashion Show for Seniors emerged from deeply personal roots. He describes himself as not just a filmmaker but a storyteller who understands the profound impact stories can have on shaping mindsets. “It came from a personal space,” Malik reveals. Malik’s mother’s health challenges became the catalyst for this extraordinary venture. “I had a very close relationship with my mother,” he reminisces. “We would talk every day, up until I couldn’t.” Her sudden double stroke and heart attack was a profound loss and he turned to the creative process as a way to deal with his pain. 

Crafting the Fashion Show for Seniors was a formidable challenge. There were no established references to guide Malik on his creative journey. “There were no references,” he recalls, emphasising the difficulty of envisioning an entirely new concept. Malik approached the task with meticulous precision, blending his cinematic expertise into the realm of fashion. “I had to create and art direct each of the images,” he explains. To achieve his vision, he used his knowledge of lighting, direction, and composition, ensuring each element contributed to the desired look and feel. 

"If we told more truthful authentic stories of the reality of our elders then the world would be a better place."

The profound impact of Malik’s fashion show extended beyond his initial expectations. “They made me happy,” Malik shares, reflecting on his reaction upon seeing the final images. However, the true testament to the project’s success lay in the overwhelming response it received from people of all ages. Messages from viewers poured in, expressing how the show had inspired them and reshaped their perceptions of ageing. “It touched me in such a profound way,” Malik acknowledges, underscoring the project’s emotional resonance. 

At the core of the fashion show’s message lays a passionate commitment to challenge society’s negative stereotypes about ageing. Malik sought to portray older people with confidence and vitality. “I wanted to be able to show people in a different way,” he explains. His intention was clear: to prove that ageing can be an enriching and empowering experience. 

Malik believes that society must rethink its approach to ageing and involve all ages — young and old —  in the policymaking process. “The decision of the government needs to consider all ages,” Malik asserts. He sees the knowledge and wisdom of older people, their life experiences as assets that can help society navigate its challenges and create a more equitable and inclusive future. 

AI image of fashionable couple on a beach

Fashion, for Malik, represents more than just clothing; it is a powerful tool for shifting cultural norms and perceptions. He calls for a rethinking of the fashion narrative, away from superficial portrayals of ageing. “If we told more truthful authentic stories of the reality of our elders,” Malik passionately argues, “then the world would be a better place.” 

Malik’s commitment to changing perceptions extends beyond a single AI fashion show. He has expanded his vision by hosting real ‘Fashion shows for seniors” in various locations. The first of these was held in Amsterdam this month (Sept 2023) and many more are on the horizon. “All the outfits I designed with AI have been made for real by designers I have selected,” he proudly states. His ambitious plans include launching a reality show where he’ll train older people of all ages to walk the runway, breaking more stereotypes and fostering inclusivity in the world of fashion. 

Malik is a vocal advocate for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) as a powerful tool for innovation. He encourages those who are hesitant about AI to embrace it and to become informed about its capabilities. “AI is a major leap,” he says, “but it’s just a tool. It is going to be present.” 

Older woman on catwalk

Malik’s personal experiences, particularly the loss of his mother, have deeply influenced his perspective on ageing. “I want to live every day to the fullest if I can,” he reveals. His outlook underscores the significance of embracing ageing as an opportunity to savor life’s moments and make the most of the journey. 

To further his mission of spreading happiness, Malik founded the Euphoria Foundation. This nonprofit organisation is dedicated to partnering with medical professionals and government entities in his home country of Nigeria to provide bespoke support for individuals. “We just want to make people happy for at least one day,” Malik explains. “My focus is on helping people be happy right now, get people to share their stories and wisdom.” 

Malik Afegbua’s journey is a powerful testament to the potential for storytelling, innovation, and art to reshape society’s perceptions. Through his fashion show and the Euphoria Foundation, he continues to inspire positive change and advocates for a more inclusive, joyful, and equitable society for people of all ages. Malik’s vision and determination exemplify the transformative power of creativity and innovation in challenging stereotypes and fostering happiness in a world where more and more of us will be older longer. 

More Information

More about Malik Afegbua.

Malik Afegbua is a Nigerian contemporary Artist, Virtual reality curator and Film Director (Cinema / Television). The Bachelor of Arts graduate from the University of Surrey, London is the Lead Visioner and Chief Executive Officer of Slickcity Media, a full-fledged innovative media production company with expertise across the entire media value chain including film/tv production, documentaries, VR, films, commercials, corporate videos, visual marketing, media technology, and publishing. 

Malik is a Culture Architect who strongly believes in harnessing the enormous power of storytelling to shift mindsets and evoke emotions regardless of the medium of expression. Influenced by global culture and the endless possibilities that technological advancements offer, Malik brings masterpieces to life by combining different mediums to tell stories utilising virtual reality, and blurring the lines of what reality as we know it now is. 

You can find out more here. 



Make sure you never miss a story. Join This Curious Life’s newsletter here.