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Africa Fashion means the past, the future and the present at the same time. The joy of life and the joy of color is completely different and very particular to the continent. It’s a language of heritage, it’s a language of DNA, it’s a language of memories.
Now showing at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Foregrounding individual African voices and perspectives, the exhibition presents African fashions as a self-defining art form that reveals the richness and diversity of African histories and cultures. Africa Fashion celebrates the vitality and innovation of a selection of fashion creatives from over 20 countries, exploring the work of the vanguard in the twentieth century and the creatives at the heart of this eclectic and cosmopolitan scene.
The exhibition offers a close-up look at the new generation of ground-breaking designers, collectives, stylists and fashion photographers working in today’s Africa . It explores how the digital world accelerated the expansion of the industry, irreversibly transforming global fashions.
I feel like there’s so many facets of what we’ve been through as a continent, that people don’t actually understand. Now, more than ever, African designers are taking charge of their own narrative and telling people authentic stories, not the imagined utopias.
The first generation of African designers to gain attention throughout the continent and globally can be seen in the exhibits Vanguard section. The rise and impact, creative process and inspirations of Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou, Kofi Ansah, Alphadi, Naïma Bennis, and their peers are traced, and brought to life by real stories from those who loved and wore their distinctive designs.
Afrotopia features a look from Thebe Magugu’s Alchemy collection, created in collaboration with Noentla Khumalo – a stylist and traditional healer. The collection centres on African spirituality and the relationship we have with our ancestors. Alongside will be a look by Selly Raby Kane, which takes inspiration from Afro-Futurism.
Alchemy collection, Thebe Magugu, Autumn/Winter 2021, Johannesburg, South Africa. Photography: Tatenda Chidora, Styling + Set: Chloe Andrea Welgemoed, Model: Sio
Self-portrait, Gouled Ahmed, Addis Foam, Ethiopia
In Adornment, a neckpiece made of brass, sisal and borax salt from Ami Doshi Shah’s Salt of the Earth collection examines the talismanic properties of jewellery and the storytelling ability of materials drawn from nature.
From global fashion weeks to celebrity wearers and the role of social media, Africa Fashion celebrates and champions the diversity and ingenuity of the continent’s fashion scene. The exhibition forms part of a broader and ongoing V&A commitment to grow the museum’s permanent collection of work by African and African Diaspora designers, working collaboratively to tell new layered stories about the richness and diversity of African creativity, cultures, and histories, using fashion as a catalyst.
Africa Fashion from 2 July 2022 – 16 April 2023.
The governments of Germany and Nigeria have signed an agreement for the transfer of ownership of 1,130 works of art to Nigeria. All of the works
– collectively known as Benin Bronzes though they include sculptures made of brass and ivory – were looted during the British punitive expedition to Benin in 1897, before arriving in the collections of 20 German museums…
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