Photo by Manuel Obadia-Wills


By Anthony Thuong-Seng

Music, voguing, fashion, constitute the essence of Hanabi the K. Their 7 Kunt project is the sound and visual materialization of a vast universe born from his imagination. Crash met with Hanabi, who opened up about their unique journey, punctuated by successes, failures and various trials that have shaped their strength of spirit.
Your pseudonym means « fire flower » in Japanese, what is the meaning behind this choice? 
It comes from a character of the Naruto manga in which I find myself. He is a discreet character and we don’t really understand what he is for at the beginning. It’s only later that we learn his capital importance in this manga. That corresponds to me because it is a little what happened to me in the real life. This name represents me in everything, in life, in what I like.
To what extent does it represent you? 
I had a complicated childhood and I didn’t have an easy relationship with my family. I was forced to do things that didn’t suit me, I was playing a role.
Did you feel different from everything around you? 
Yes, I couldn’t figure out who I was. I went through several stages and as time went by, I discovered voguing which allowed me to discover myself and to evolve. When I was eighteen, I left home and a friend advised me to take on all of my responsibilities. When I assumed all my personalities, Hanabi emerged and I rediscovered myself.
Is it at this time that you found your pseudonym? 
No, it was later. At the time of the meetings (contests) Ballroom, one had allotted to me the nickname of : Bagheera, the black panther in The Jungle Book. However, I found that this name did not correspond to me, it is while arriving at the evenings House of Lanvin that I became Hanabi. I wanted to start a new chapter and forget my past. As I am androgynous, I thought that « Hanabi » sounded both girl and boy, so I chose this name.
Your resume in fashion is particularly rich. Tell me about this part of your life. 
My first major contract was to walk for Gucci in Rome in 2018. It was amazing because I had hardly done anything before. At the time I was looking at ads, I was led to believe that I had been taken for a casting in Australia, I sent money but it was actually a scam. For three years I was doing castings and nothing worked. The agencies told me I was too ugly, too small, too black… One agency just took me on to fill its quota of blacks. One day I almost signed with a major agency but the director wanted to take advantage of me… I left and he told me I would never make it. I wanted to quit.
At that time, did you see yourself evolving somewhere else than in fashion? 
I’ve always been attracted to the artistic world and I’m determined, even though it was particularly hard because of my family background. Something inside me said « Go for it! ». I ran away from home and wasn’t heard from for three years.
You found a new family with the Ballroom? 
Exactly. Originally, the purpose of the Ballroom was to provide a family for people rejected by society.
And going back to your first experience with Gucci, how was it? 
It was a time when I was traveling a lot for voguing. One day I was in Spain and got a call that I had a casting call in Rome. When I received my plane ticket, I found it more secure than the last time. When I arrived at the airport, I thought no one was waiting for me. In fact, a man holding a « Gucci » sign was there for me. I arrived at a hotel with a lot of people and everything was like a show. It was a week-long casting session where every day someone was eliminated. I was finally taken and paraded. When I came back to Paris, all the agencies wanted me, and the same director who told me I would never succeed wanted to work with me. Even in my circle, I was accepted and taken seriously. After that I was able to work for brands like Makeup Forever, Adidas, Nike or Lanvin.
Even with this success, are there any aspects of the fashion world that you still don’t like? 
Yes, I still do. When I started out I needed photos for a book. Some photographers had inappropriate gestures. I also encountered a lot of racism.
Since a few years, many big houses started to work with black models, the transition was not natural.
Before, the agencies prevented me from working. For Gucci, it all came from me.
You’ve definitely made your mark in fashion. When and how did you get into music?


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