SANTAFRIKA Exhibition by Sant’Era and Sabrina Poli lands in Kenya on the Picturesque Island of Manda

Experience iconic shots featuring young Kenyan women dressed in original couture dresses from the well-known Maison Martin Margiela – Artisanal and Comme de Garçons collections

Kenya, Manda Island, BLUE Empire

After the great success of the preview in 2022 in Rome, the SANTAFRIKA exhibition conceived by Sant’Era with the shots of visual designer Sabrina Poli lands in Kenya on the suggestive Manda Island inside the Blue Empire Cottage from 8 until 15 March 2023. On display will be a selection of about twenty photographs, printed on aluminum, featuring young Kenyan women dressed in original couture dresses from the well-known Maison Martin Margiela – Artisanal and Comme de Garçons collections.


Located on the fantastic Manda Beach, a few meters from the sea and surrounded by lush tropical plants, the Blue Empire enjoys spectacular views of the Indian Ocean, the island of Lamu and the village of Shela. The cottage, built with precious African woods and designed in a refined exotic style, is characterized by traditional Makuti roofs and spacious verandas at the foot of the sea, where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets. It is in this dreamlike location that the Santafrika exhibition finds its ideal setting. Charcoal, white, sand and vermilion red tones characterize Santafrika’s photographs where Kenyan models are portrayed in the pure and natural soul of Watamu’s white beaches. 

Graphic and sharp shots as if subject and environment became one surface in unison. Unexpected juxtapositions between European and Japanese tailoring, the refined elegance of the models and nature so powerful, luminous, dazzling. The hairstyles both harmonize and contrast with their surroundings and the models interpret a fashion ‘out of time’ between the West and Africa.


The Santafrika project, realised in Kenya in 2019, focuses on the dialogue between the north and south of the planet and the interconnection of the two cultures expressed through the union of fashion, art and nature. Sant’Era’s idea is to unite the opposites of two of his great passions, namely the conceptual rigour of turn-of-the-century Nordic designers such as Martin Margiela and the love for the authentic soul of Kenya, the place where Sant’Era has lived.

The essence of the project is the marriage of two opposing cultures that are able to generate uncompromising beauty through contradictory juxtapositions, haute couture dresses, African braids, and golden glitter that refracts sunlight on the models’ bodies. In these photographs, we can admire the natural beauty of local women who fully convey the soul of their African land.


“We did a casting with these beautiful African girls. – declares project creator Sant’Era – They are ordinary girls that we stopped on the street, poor girls, who hardly wear elegant clothes. Beyond the beautiful photos taken, the most exciting thing was seeing the girls so proud of being dressed and made up. The young girls felt like protagonists, proud to wear elegant clothes and to have a make-up artist and hairstylist all to themselves. This transformation, combined with their magnificent natural poise, the result exceeded all expectations. “.

Sant’Era took her first steps in the world of fashion and beauty in the 1980s, working with leading companies in the hair cosmetics sector. She moved to Rome, where she worked with great masters including John Santilli art director of Vidal Sasson: a fundamental experience to learn the basics and geometries of cutting, anatomy, make-up, styling.


She is a reference point for the film and show business worlds. In the nineties, she opened her first space, thus Sant’Era, in Cesenatico: an environment full of energy that hosts art exhibitions, product presentations, customer events, and also hosts friends and anyone who wants to get closer to her world.

Sabrina Poli, art director and visual designer, works in cross-media communication. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ravenna and the University of Design in Reggio Emilia, she has always dedicated herself to art, design and photography. 


During her training, a UDP master, she developed photographic projects with maestro LuigiGhirri, the “Poesie Terapeutiche” project with writer Ermanno Cavazzoni. Later, she collaborated on design projects with Stefano Giovannoni architecture studio in Milan. She works for several fashion, design and cosmetics brands including Diego dalla Palma, Fendi Casa and Accademia Bizantina Orchestra.

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