NEWS: Victoria and Albert Museum Announces African Fashion Exhibition

The V&A have announced that it will be presenting a major exhibition celebration African fashion.

Garments: Kofi Ansah ‘Indigo’ Couture. Accessories: Katie Torda Dagadu at ‘Suntrade’. Models: Emmanuel Narh ‘Taller’ Gaduga & Linda Tsirakasu Location: La Trade Fair, Accra – Ghana. Assistant: Naana Orleans-Amissah. Photographer: Eric Don-Arthur.

Set to open in June 2022, the newly announced exhibition is set to celebrate the creativity,ingenuity and unstoppable global impact of contemporary African fashions.

Featuring over 250 objects, the display will feature many from the personal archives of a selection of iconic mid-twentieth century and influential contemporary African fashion creatives, alongside textiles and photographs from the V&A’s collection will go on display – many for the first time.

The exhibition will start with the African independence and liberation years that sparked a radical political and social reordering across the continent to examine how fashion, alongside music and the visual arts, formed a key part of Africa’s cultural renaissance, laying the
foundation for today’s fashion revolution.

Talking about the exhibition, Dr Christine Checinska, Curator of African and African Diaspora Fashion, said: “Our guiding principle is the foregrounding of individual African voices and perspectives. The exhibition will present African fashions as a self-defining art form that reveals the richness and diversity of African histories and cultures. To showcase all fashions across such a vast region would be to attempt the impossible. Instead, Africa Fashion will celebrate the vitality and innovation of a selection of fashion creatives, exploring the work of the vanguard in the twentieth century and
the creatives at the heart of this eclectic and cosmopolitan scene today. We hope this exhibition will spark a renegotiation of the geography of fashion and become a game-changer for the field.”

Meanwhile, the V&A is also putting out a public call-out to uncover personal testimonies from those who have worn their beloved garments. Items the V&A are seeking for the exhibition include: Rare and early designs by Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou, Kofi Ansah and Alphadi,1980s experimental garments in bògòlanfini by Chris Seydou, twentieth century kente, bògòlanfini, khanga and commemorative cloths from the independence and liberation years that connect to personal stories, family portraits and home movies from the independence and liberation years showing African and African diasporic fashion trends of the day, made-to-order garments, including aso ebi, co-created by local tailors, dressmakers and their clients, worn at festivals or to mark significant personal milestones, from 2010 onwards and copies of the Drum Magazine from 1950-1970. The call-out for Africa Fashion will run until the 1st May 2021.

Further details about the exhibition, including a special publication, will be revealed later this year.

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