Expedition filmed by Max Vadukul, Screened at Ziegfeld Theatre, New York, 1985, from Cooper Hewitt on Vimeo.

Smith conceived Expedition as a new format for presenting the WilliWear spring 1986 collection. The film was shot by Max Vadukul in Dakar, Senegal, in 1985 and featured several of Smith’s regular collaborators including Mark Bozek, Linda Mason, and Peter Gordon. Smith cast the film with locals and the Theatre National Daniel Sorano dance troupe, styling actors in WilliWear looks inspired by the streets of Dakar. Expedition embodies WilliWear’s embrace of film as a mechanism for disseminating fashion concepts beyond the runway and Smith’s desire to draw inspiration from and reflect on his African heritage while encouraging his audience to explore African cultures.


An audio-described version of the video can be found here

00 01

A large airliner touches down on a runway which is flanked by fields of dry grass.


00 17

The name Air Afriqueis painted on the white hull above stripes of green and yellow.


00 26

When it stops, a tall White man in striped shorts and a white T-shirt exits with his luggage. The newly arrived Traveler stops at the top of the runway stairs and waves triumphantly to an unseen crowd.


00 40

He makes his way down the outdoor staircase. Inside the terminal, a Black customs officer in a yellow uniform and round glasses drums his fingers, waiting for the Traveler to approach.


00 50

Beside them, the lid of a large steel case pops open, and a Black woman peeks out. The Traveler shoots her an irritated glance, then rummages in his luggage under the border agent’s watchful gaze. With the officer distracted, the woman throws open the lid and climbs out of the case. Several others climb out after her!


01 08 spritz

The Traveler squirts breath freshener into his mouth, and the customs officer imitates his expression. The Traveler pulls cricket balls from his luggage, and juggles. Beside them, people continue to climb from the case, unseen.


01 20

The Traveler holds up a jock dingle 23 and waggles his dangling finger. The officer smiles, unaware of the people still emerging from the case.


01 29

The Traveler holds up a cricket bat, and the distracted officer nods approvingly.


01 38

The Traveler shows the officer a cricket glove, allowing several others to exit the case unseen.


01 46 boof

He playfully punches the officer, who glowers angrily.


01 52

Nearby, the gaggle of people who snuck out of the case twirl their way into a public bathroom. Locals in headscarves shake their heads watching them swirl in, flush 02 01 then quickly file back out again.


02 07

Nearby, the Traveler teases the officer with his passport. The officer grabs it, and discovers a photo of a chicken inside. He considers, then nods officiously and returns the passport.


02 21

The Traveler collects his luggage, then abruptly screams in the officer’s face! When the officer opens his mouth, the Traveler douses him with breath freshener. Beside them, the gaggle files back into to the open case.


02 33 clinking

The officer stops the Traveler, and points to his second bag. While the others return to the case, the Traveler opens the bag for inspection.


02 45

He shows the officer a pair of spectacles, wiggle 48 and wiggles his finger like a droopy nose. The officer imitates him, then nods and returns the specs.


02 59

The Traveler pulls out a camera. He takes a photo of the officer while the others return to the case and shut the lid. The officer takes photos of the Traveler, who playfully gulps mouthfuls of air.


03 12

The Traveler puts away his camera, and pulls out a can of compressed air. Perplexed, the officer examines it. Ffft 20 He squirts himself in the mouth, making the Traveler chuckle.


03 28

The Traveler gathers his things, then holds up his finger asking the officer to wait. He gives him his jock! dingle 37 The officer accepts, waggling his dangling finger.


03 39

The Traveler turns to the case and flips it over. “Oooh.” 44 He picks it up, revealing a sticker on the side which reads “Grand Canyon. He gathers his other bags with help from the officer.


03 54

The officer waves the jock as the Traveler leaves with his luggage. Outside, he crosses the street with quick jaunty steps, wearing white socks and black loafers.


04 01 screech over zipping noise

A minivan stops before hitting him, and a ticket seller jumps out with a small machine hung around his neck. He hands the Traveler a ticket, but the Traveler holds up ten fingers and points to his case. The ticket seller cranks out more tickets, 12 then more again.


04 16

The ticket seller climbs into the front seat, and the Traveler gets into the back with his luggage.


04 27

The minivan drives off, and follows the signs to Dakar.


04 34

It drives along a city street.


04 40 screech honk

The minivan is forced to stop, cut off by a duckwalking man in a golden turban!


04 46

The man duckwalks away, and the minivan turns into the Teranga Hotel parking lot.


04 59 barking

The man in the turban barks, then duckwalks into the hotel as the minivan pulls up to the front door. A bellhop waddles out with a bowlegged gait.


05 13

The bellhop opens the minivan door, and the Traveler peers out, staring at the sky. He gets out, as does the ticket seller, who hands him another strip of tickets.


05 23

Carrying his bag, the Traveler heads to the door with a jaunty step. The bellhop follows with a bowlegged waddle, case in hand.


05 33 over barking

They pass the man in the golden turban, who duckwalks out of the hotel.


05 40

Once inside, the Traveler puts his hands on his hips and reprimands the bellhop, then proceeds to the front desk, insisting his luggage be put down beside him.


05 52

Behind the desk, a beautiful clerk puts down her nail file and looks him up and down.


05 59

He pinches her cheek and she slaps him!  


06 04

The clerk holds out her hand, and he gives her his passport.


06 09

She considers the picture of the chicken, pulling back her hand when he tries to lick her.


06 15

The Traveler jiggles his hand, and she mimics his gesture, holding up a room key.


06 21 snatch

He snatches it, then turns away, flicking her chin before he leaves. He scolds the bellhop, who obediently follows. Looking directly at us, the clerk makes a dismissive gesture with both hands.


06 34

At the elevators, the Traveler waits impatiently. When the doors open and three women in head wraps file out, he glares at each one in turn.


06 46

The Traveler beckons the bellhop then shuffles into the empty elevator. He notes the “Max 5 Persones sign with clenched teeth, then yanks on the bellhop’s arm to get him into the small elevator with his big steel case. 


06 59

The doors close, and the elevator begins its climb, bouncing between floors.


07 08

“Day One


07 11

Brilliant sunlight shines down on an outdoor pool.


07 17

The Traveler struts along the pool deck with halting steps. The bellhop follows, struggling to carry his luggage. The Traveler reprimands him, then carries on, leaning forward with his shoulders back like a sassy rooster.


07 41

The Traveler reprimands the bellhop, then carries on.


07 41

He shuffles through the hotel lobby with a jaunty shuffle and the struggling bellhop right behind him.


07 55

As they make their way through the front door, the Traveler waves to unseen passersby.


08 06

He claps his hands in the air and a little red convertible pulls up to the hotel.


08 17

The driver gets out and opens the trunk, then negotiates with the Traveler, who indicates that he wants to drive. The bellhop loads the bag into trunk as the driver gets into the passenger’s seat, and the Traveler gets behind the steering wheel.


08 29

The Traveler gestures at the backseat. The bellhop hoists the steel case into the car, which sinks with the weight. pffft 36 Wiping his forehead, the bellhop collapses, convulsing as the Traveler drives away. honk honk


08 43 2nd honk honk

The Traveler drives along a winding dirt road, pointing to the sky through the open roof.


08 56 screech bang

They drive between two thick trees, then pull up to a grass hut where three locals in colorful hats and coats are gathered.


09 08

The Traveler gets out of the car and one of the locals sweeps him toward the trunk with a makeshift broom.


09 18 pop

The Traveler collects his bag, sprits 21 then spritzes himself with breath freshener. He collects his steel case, and shoves it and the bag into the hut as the driver drives away.


09 37

Two of the locals shrug. He emerges from the hut with his camera, the balls, and a cricket wicket. He marches off, followed by Black men from the steel case, who wear cricket gloves and shin pads.


09 51

Nearby, an umpire in a white pith helmet marches on the spot beside a wicket. The Traveler rooster-walks up to him, and they slap hands. His friends approach in a line while a group of local women in colorful hats and white gloves gather around, shrugging their shoulders.


10 11

The Traveler leads the line of men, who pump their fists in the air in unison. They stop, and he turns to face them, then claps his hands in the air. Some of them repeat his action.


10 23

With a series of frantic hand gestures he sends the men to various places around the cricket field. A batsman stands with the umpire and wicket, and the Traveler positions himself behind them.


10 33

Looking on, the women smile and pump their arms in the air. The cricket match begins, and the Traveler bowls with a halting, jaunty approach.


10 42

The women pump their arms and jump up and down.


10 47

The Traveler collects the ball, and backs up into position.


10 55

One of the players wipes the sweat off his brow. He pulls off his shirt, runs up to the umpire, and hangs it around his neck.


11 04

The women cheer.


11 10

The other players pull off their shirts and drape them over the umpire, too!


11 19

The Traveler bowls in slow motion, then crouches down to take a photo of the match.


11 29

“Day Two


11 31

Standing outside the Daniel Sorano National Theatre, spritz 35 the Traveler spritzes himself with breath freshener.


11 39

He drags his steel case to the door, and slides it inside.


11 51

He pulls the case down the aisle of the dark, empty theater.


12 00 “Ooo!”

He hoists it onto the stage. “Oof.”


12 06

He sits on the edge of the stage, then climbs to his feet.


12 13

The Traveler drags the case to the back of the stage, and lifts it onto a large white box which stands in front of a curtain adorned with a painting of a bare tree.


12 25

Looking at the camera which hangs around his neck, he wanders off.


12 32

The case pops open, and two women peek out.


 12 37

They throw back the lid, climb out of the case, and hurry off. 43 Another woman follows, then another, 48 and another. More women file out of the case, all dressed in long billowy clothing.


12 58

A man climbs out of the case, glances about, then runs off. Another man follows, tapping his open mouth. They all dance on the stage like they’re running on the spot.


13 18

Standing at the corner of the stage, the Traveler shakes his head and claps. The others keep dancing.


13 25

The Traveler holds up his hands to stop them, then strides across the stage.


13 31

He demonstrates a dance move which involves tiny steps and rigid thrusts of the hips. Three dancers mimic him. He then demonstrates a move that involves walking on the spot, shuffling hips, and swinging arms. Three others join in.


13 44

For the final three dancers he poses with his hands like an Egyptian hieroglyph while rocking his hips. With everyone dancing, he hurries back to the front of the stage and begins taking pictures.


14 01

He flashes an OK sign, then leaps forward to take close-ups.


14 08

“Day Three


14 10

On open water, a Black sea Captain in a blue blazer and waxed mustache steers a ship’s wheel. He peers through binoculars, scanning the water before him.


14 22

He spots the Traveler rowing a small boat! Dropping the binoculars, the Captain grabs the sides of his head, then frantically waves him off. The Traveler grins, stands, and waves back.


14 37

The Captain yells “No! No! then covers his eyes and shudders. crunch


14 46

The Traveler climbs up the side of the boat. 51 Spitting out water, he cheerfully smiles and waves.


14 56

He hoists the open steel case onto the deck, revealing a jumble of white towels and sticks???


15 04

The Captain prays, then argues with the Traveler. The Traveler pulls a stick from his case and pretends it’s a fishing rod. Holding up a finger, the Captain hurries off, and returns with a real fishing rod.


15 15

The Traveler holds up eight fingers, then bends the fishing pole and shifts his hips from side to side.


15 21

The Captain mimics the action, staring at him with a wrinkled brow. The Traveler points over the side of the boat, and his friends from the case begin climbing onto the deck, each one dancing off with unique moves.


15 46

The Traveler hands out fishing rods, and several of his friends rush to the railing to fish. Others lie on deck cushions, basking in the sun.


15 56

The Traveler joins his fishing friends, who wear earrings and necklaces of silver disks. They begin to fall asleep on their feet!


16 04

One of his friends gets a tug on the line and begins reeling in. Soon, they all get tugs, and reel in their lines.


16 11

They reel in colorful dress shirts on clothes hangers!


16 16

The Captain looks on, mouth agape. The bright, patterned shirts bob on the ends of the fishing rods.


16 31

The fishers pose with their catch. The Traveler gets the Captain to lie on the deck in front of them.


16 40

Instructing the fishers to sway their hips, he begins snapping pictures like a fashion photographer.


16 51

He points at the sky like he’s disco dancing, and continues taking pictures.


17 01

“Day Four”


17 03

The Traveler rides a bicycle along a quiet beach, holding the steel case at his side.


17 16

He wobbles in the sand, passing a moldy wooden boat beached at the water’s edge.


17 29

The Traveler stops and puts down the case. Glancing about, he gets off his bike with a finger to his ear. He begins dancing to the sound of the drums.


17 41

He dances up to a group of bare-chested Black men wearing colorful pants and stripes of white paint on their torsos and faces, who rap on tall drums with bare hands and sticks in the shade of a beach tree.


17 56

The Traveler continues to dance, twitching to the beat. Doing his rooster walk, he leans back and opens his mouth wide. cock-a-doodle-doo


18 09

The drummers smile, 12 and laugh.


18 15

The Traveler runs backwards in the sand, and a drummer leaps in the air.


18 22 surf

Nearby, a small wave pulls the steel case into the water. It begins to float away, unnoticed by the dancing Traveler, who puts his hands on his hips and pecks the air like a chicken.


18 37

One of the drummers points at the water, then pats the Traveler on the back to get his attention.


18 44

They spot the case floating out to sea. The Traveler flaps his elbows, jumps over his bike, and sprints into the water.


18 57

He prays to a pair of nearby fishermen standing in a small wooden boat. Pointing to his case, he mimes the use of a fishing net.


19 08

One of the fishermen waves, then tosses his weighted net over the case. The Traveler holds his hands to his cheeks, beaming as the fisherman pulls his case to safety. Delighted, he flicks his own chin. twinkle


19 22 twinkle

On the beach, Black women gleefully dance. Some are topless, but all wear dresses or skirts in matching colorful prints.


19 32 over walrus

The fisherman brings his boat ashore, passing a swimmer with a white mustache. The dancers, drummers, and Traveler run to meet him as he places the now smaller steel trunk inside the moldy beached boat. The Traveler opens the case, which is now adorned with a sticker reading “Baby Canyon.” “Gasp!” 48 They all reel back in surprise.


19 53

The Traveler puts his hands on his hips, then begins lifting Black children out of the case! The kids wear colorful clothing in bright prints and patterns. The others look on with great interest.


20 14 “Oooh.”

He continues lifting kids out of the small case.


20 20

The Traveler shuts the case and walks away, clapping his hands in the air. Everyone on the beach gathers around, including several women in feathered tribal garb.


20 30

They dance as the drummers pound their drums.


20 38

The Traveler waves his arms in the air to stop them. He holds up a finger, then shows the group how to jump in unison.


20 49

He counts to three, and everyone jumps. As the Traveler snaps pictures of the jumping locals, a bare-chested man runs forward and turns around. The name ‘Willi’ is written on his back with white paint.


21 03

Later, the Traveler shuffles through the airport with jaunty, halting steps. He carries the small steel case to the customs officer, who stands waiting in his yellow uniform.


21 17 slap

They slap hands. The Traveler dances, retrieving a large envelope from his bag. He pulls photos from the envelope and hands them to the officer. They show the fishers on the boat, and the cricket match. The officer turns and looks directly at us. “Weird.”


21 33

The officer returns the photos, and the dancing Traveler slips them back into his bag.


21 44

The officer waves, and the Traveler struts off with his luggage.


21 48 Credits

Willi Smith would like to thank:


Air Afrique

Sofitel Teranga Hotel

Senegal Contact Travel Agency

Sofratour Ground Transportation

Mr Laye Thiam – Timbuktours

The Government of Senegal

The Jackie Robinson Foundation


WilliWear – New York

President – Laurie Mallet

Vice-President & Designer – Willi Smith


Director – Max Vadukul

[Executive Producer – Mark Bozek

Producer – Til Jessop

Director of Photography – Richard Gibb]

Writer – Simon Dicketts

Music – Peter Gordon


Photographer [Traveler] played by Lou Salvatori (aka Chicky)

Other cast supplied by the Theatre National Daniel Sorano


22 19

Expedition was filmed entirely in Senegal, Africa

Copyright 1985 WilliWear Limited New York


22 29 BLACK


22 54

Gray static fills the screen.


22 57 END