Photographer Hugo Comte Is Expanding Beyond the Image Into the Metaverse and Must-Have Fashion

French photographer Hugo Comte will launch three major projects over the next three weeks. Today it announced the launch of $ NIKITA, a proprietary digital token based on P00ls. On February 3 he will open an exhibition of his work with the stylist Ib Kamara at the Galerie Hussenot in Paris. Then, February 17 will see the debut of a fashion line she designed with Central Saint Martins graduate Lois Saunders, Dear Nikita. Comte appears to be powered by jet fuel, although in a late night Zoom call from Paris he remarked, “I don’t even drink caffeine.”

What motivates Comte is a furious passion for demystifying his art. His rise to fame coincided with the lockdown days of the pandemic, when life in person was cut off and all we could do was browse the internet. After having photographed that of Dua Lipa Future nostalgia album cover, fans began to haunt her social media profiles obsessively. On them, Comte would post images from Rowing photographic services, 032C editorial and campaigns for Bulgari, Zara and Heaven Marc Jacobs. “I have 180,000 people who follow me on Instagram and see my work, but I don’t see them,” he says. “I want to completely change and break the way I interact with my community.”

The layout of Comte’s digital world

The layout of Comte’s digital world

Citing Virgil Abloh as an inspiration for how the late designer used architecture as a framework to create physical and digital communities, Comte explains the first part of his global acquisition: the $ NIKITA token. While technically a digital currency, the token is less about trading dogecoins for stocks, or whatever happens on the Ethereum-powered network, and more about building a Comte fan club. Visitors to his site can acquire tokens by interacting with the content, and with continued participation you get more premium access: to behind-the-scenes photos, Masterclass-style lectures, podcasts and conversations. The framework that supports the token looks a lot like a virtual tower: after all, Comte studied architecture.

“It’s a way of building a bridge between the pop culture audience I have, the high fashion audience I have, and the cryptic audience,” he says. “All that audience needs each other, so for me it’s really about building a bridge. I would like to start giving something a little more open and more accessible “.

The $ Nikita token Video courtesy of Hugo Comte

The token and platform have also put Comte’s creativity back in his hands: he no longer has to rely on magazines, social media or other artists to promote existing projects. By creating a dedicated group of Comte community members, he owns not only his work but the narratives behind it. “What interests me about P00ls is that they really don’t have any competitors,” says Comte. “It’s very new and what I like about the whole thing is that money isn’t the only currency. It’s like your taste becomes the currency here, your ability to smell the talent and smell the potential in people becomes the currency. Your loyalty to the artists becomes currency. I really like this idea. ”

Early adopters of $ NIKITA will have the opportunity to get their login in place almost immediately. When the “Testament” exhibit opens in Paris later this week, token holders will have access to an exclusive question and answer session between Comte and Kamara. The couple will have a lot to discuss. Their images, made almost a year ago, are representations of their different stories: Kamara is from Sierra Leone, moved to Gambia and settled in London working as a stylist before becoming editor-in-chief of Stunned in 2019. Comte’s father is Algerian, his mother is from the Caribbean and although he is of mixed origins, he benefits from the privilege of whites in Europe and abroad. “The show started with a desire for me to make sense of who I am in my work, because I think I have tended to really create a gap between what I do and who I am, “he says.

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