African fashion finally gets its due in historic show at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum | Fashion

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On Saturday, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London opened “african fashion” (until April 16, 2023), a historical exhibition dedicated to fashion from all over the continent, from its time of independence to the present.

“Our guiding principles are to center Africanness, with all its nuances, its contradictions and its complexity,” said Christine Checinska, the museum’s senior curator of African and Diaspora textiles and fashion, who organized the exhibit. “Africa is the starting point, but it is an inclusive and expanded country, expansive. africa that is not only linked to geography. It’s more about an inner spirit.”

The show features 45 designers from more than 20 countries, with more than 250 objects on display:including garments from the personal archives of mid-20th century pioneers such as Shade Thomas-Fahm, credited as “Nigeria’s first fashion designer” for modernizing styles such as the goa traditional Yoruba skirt, and Chris Seydo from Maliyou who while working with artists such as Yves Saint Laurent, he contemporaryized indigenous textiles into designs of his own.

Accompanied by notes, sketches, photos, film and runway footage, his creations they have never before been displayed in a London museum. Their The impact during the years of liberation was enormous, nevertheless; and lives on in a new generation of designers, stylists, photographers and multidisciplinary creatives who are they again changing the landscape of fashion on the continent and around the world.

A ca.-1992 fashion show by Nigerien designer Alphadi, known as the

A ca.-1992 fashion show by Nigerian designer Alphadi, known as the “Wizard of the Desert”. © Alfadi.

“There is this new form of pan-Africanism in the air when it comes to fashion professionals,” Checinska told Artnet News. “This new pan-Africanism recognizes the difference; there is room for opposite poles.”

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Among these practitioners is based in Johannesburg Tebe Maguguwinner of the LVMH Award 2019; more recently, it became the first “friend” Alber Elbaz’s A-Z Factory, presenting a collection that asks, “What if Africa was the birthplace of haute couture?” The show includes pieces from her Alchemy collection, inspired by African descent and spirituality and created in collaboration with South African stylist and traditional healer Noentla Khumalo.

A look from Thebe Magugu's fall-winter 2021 Alchemy collection.  Photography: Tatenda Chidora;  Styling + Set: Chloe Andrea Welgemoed;  Model: Yes.

A look from Thebe Magugu’s fall-winter 2021 Alchemy collection. Photo: Tatenda Chidora; styling and set design: Chloe Andrea Welgemoed; Model: Yes.

In the meantime, Selly Raby KaneThe designs draw from cultures near and far as they look to the pre-colonial histories and mythologies of their native Senegal. Known for creating Afrofuturistic performance-based presentations as part of a collective in Dakar, she recently began making magical realism and science fiction short films with references to local pop culture.

“With designers like Thebe and Selly, there’s often this wonderful drawing from the past to imagine the future, but also to invoke a future that’s already here,” Checinska said. “They are changing the whole language of fashion,” he added. “The fashion world is turning to Africa and African creatives are doing things their way.”

Also on display is a special piece that Marrakech-based Maison Artc created for the show, called A dialogue between cultures. “Africa Fashion means the past, the future and the present at the same time,” designer Artsi Ifrach said in a statement. “It’s a language of heritage, it’s a language of DNA, it’s a language of memories.”

The exhibition has a photography section that captures the growing agency and cosmopolitanism of mid- and late-20th-century Africa, from portraits by Sanlé Sory and James Barnor to domestic family photographs gathered during a public call last year.

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There are also fashion-related works, including Fela Kuti’s 1989 album cover. Beasts of no nationwithout forgetting a program of musical performances and live events.

Check out a selection of images from “Africa Fashion” below.

African fashion finally gets its due in historic show at London's Victoria and Albert Museum | Fashion Sanlé Sory Je Vais Décoller 1977 © Sanlé Sory Tezeta courtesy David Hill GalleryI’m going to take off, 1977. © Sanlé Sory, Tezeta. Courtesy of David Hill Gallery.” width=”1024″ height=”1024″/>

Sanle Sory, I’m going to take off, 1977. © Sanlé Sory, Tezeta. Courtesy of David Hill Gallery.

African fashion finally gets its due in historic show at London's Victoria and Albert Museum | Fashion The Trench designed by Maison ArtC Morocco 2021. Image courtesy @M.A.Roock model Abdul.the trench (2021) by Maison Artc, based in Marrakech. Image courtesy of MARoock. Model: Abdel.” width=”683″ height=”1024″/>

The ditch (2021), by Maison Artc, based in Marrakech. Photo courtesy of @MARoock; Model: Abdul.

A look from I am Isigo's Fall-Winter 2020 Chasing Evil collection, shot in Kenya.  Photo: Maganga Mwagogo.

A look from IAMISIGO’s Fall-Winter 2020 Chasing Evil collection, shot in Kenya. Photo: Maganga Mwagogo.

Models photographed by Stephen Tayo in Lagos, Nigeria, 2019. Courtesy of Lagos Fashion Week.

Models photographed by Stephen Tayo in Lagos, Nigeria, 2019. Courtesy of Lagos Fashion Week.

African fashion finally gets its due in historic show at London's Victoria and Albert Museum | Fashion Self portrait Gouled Ahmed Addis Foam Ethiopiaself portrait. The Ethiopian-based costume designer, stylist and photographer creates images that challenge representations of non-binary Black Muslims as she blends contemporary materials with traditional garments from the Horn of Africa. Photo: Gouled Ahmed.” width=”845″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Self-portrait-Gouled-Ahmed-Addis-Foam -Ethiopia-845×1024.jpg 845w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Self-portrait-Gouled-Ahmed-Addis-Foam-Ethiopia-248×300.jpg 248w, https:/ /news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Self-portrait-Gouled-Ahmed-Addis-Foam-Ethiopia-1267×1536.jpg 1267w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news- upload/2022/07/Self-portrait-Gouled-Ahmed-Addis-Foam-Ethiopia-1690×2048.jpg 1690w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Self-portrait-Gouled -Ahmed-Addis-Foam-Ethiopia-41×50.jpg 41w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Self-portrait-Gouled-Ahmed-Addis-Foam-Ethiopia-1584×1920. jpg 1584w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px”/>

gouled ahmed, Self Portrait (North Dakota). The Ethiopian-based costume designer, stylist and photographer creates images that challenge representations of non-binary Black Muslims as she blends contemporary materials with traditional garments from the Horn of Africa. Photo: Gouled Ahmed.

A look from the Mbeuk Idourrou Autumn-Winter 2019 collection by Cameroonian dressmaker Imane Ayissi, presented in Paris, France.  Photo: Fabrice Malard.  Courtesy of Imane Ayissi.

A look from the Mbeuk Idourrou autumn-winter 2019 collection by Cameroonian dressmaker Imane Ayissi, presented in Paris. Photo: Fabrice Malard. Courtesy of Imane Ayissi.

A necklace from the 2019 Salt of the Earth collection by Kenyan jeweler Ami Doshi Shah.  Photo: Sunny Dolat.  Courtesy of Ami Doshi Shah.

A necklace from the 2019 Salt of the Earth collection by Kenyan jeweler Ami Doshi Shah. Photo: Sunny Dolat. Courtesy of Ami Doshi Shah.

A look from designer Adeju Thompson's 2021 Lagos Space Program dress collection.  Photo: © Free Frame.

A look from designer Adeju Thompson’s 2021 Lagos Space Program dress collection. Photo: © Marco Libre.

african fashion” is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London from July 2, 2022 to April 16, 2023.

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