For too long has the post-colonial and pre-colonial African dress been the only source of interest and curiosity from the outside world. We are more likely to hear stories of the barechested Ashanti Queens and the turbans of Queen Amina than we are to hear of the work that is being done today, right now by young African designers.
Things are slowly changing, with initiatives like the International Fashion Showcase and the DC Fashion Incubator programme that offers contemporary Nigerian labels an opportunity to showcase to international buyers.
And now there’s the Fashion Cities Africa exhibition.
Running from the 30th of April 2016 all through to 8th January 2017, Fashion Cities Africa will be the first international exhibition dedicated exclusively to contemporary African Fashion and will be exhibited at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery . The exhibition focuses on four cities across North, South, Western and Eastern Africa, Casablanca in Morocco, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesburg in South Africa and will explore and exhibit all kinds of contemporary fashion, from contemporary couture labels all the way down to the trends that either trickle down to street style or diffuse up from there.
According to the Fashion Cities Africa website, Helen Mears, Brighton Museum’s Keeper of World Art and Martin Pel, its curator of Fashion & Textiles headed the panel that curated the exhibitions. Hannah Azieb Pool, Helen Jennings (of Nataal.com) and researcher Harriet Hughes visited the cities and helped choose the subjects of the exhibition.
It is great to see the unique fashion scenes of these cities get international attention, though we hope that it is made clear that the fashion scene of these cities are not indicative of their countries let alone their regions. We are worried about this because there is already this tendency to lump all of Africa’s many diverse contemporary cultures as one large scene.
The exhibition will occupy three large galleries and include diverse apparel from couture to street style, alongside images, film, sound and even elements of a tailor’s workshop evoking the drama, creativity and dynamism of the distinctive cities.
The exhibitions will include
- New commissions, including by Nairobi-based brother and sister duo 2ManySiblings (http://2manysiblings.tumblr.com/)
- Controversial high-fashion outfits worn by one of Kenya’s hottest bands, Sauti Sol(MTV Europe’s Best African Act 2014)
- Garments and accessories associated with The Sartists, a Johannesburg-based creative collective documenting their lives and style in post-apartheid South Africa (https://instagram.com/thesartists)
- Exquisite hand-crafted ‘caftan couture’ pieces by Casablanca-based designer Zhor Raïs
- Apparel by Maki Oh, the internationally acclaimed Lagos-based label worn by figures including Michele Obama
It will also include pieces from designers across the continent. Here are some of the designers chosen.
- Marianne Fassler
- Maria McCloy (styled looks)
- Thula Sindi
- The Sartists (styled looks using vintage)
- Zhor Rais
- Zineb Joundry
- Amine Bendriouch
- Yassine Morabet
- Joseph Quechen (clothes worn by)
- Amina Agueznay
- Ghitta Laskrouif
- Mouna Belgrini (clothes worn by)
- Said Marouf
- Sunny Dolat (styled looks)
- Sauti Sol (clothes by Munga)
- 2ManySiblings (styled looks using vintage)
- Adele Dejak
- The Nest Collective (clothes from the fashion film ‘To Catch a Dream’)
- Lanre da Silva
- Tiffany Amber
- Mai Atafo
- Orange Culture
- Yegwa Ukpo/Stranger
- Deola Sagoe
- Clan (Deola’s daughters)
- Maki Oh TBC
- Jewel by Lisa TBC
- Ejiro TBC
- Adeju Thompson TBC