Africa Fashion is a landmark exhibition celebrating the irresistible creativity, ingenuity and unstoppable global impact of contemporary African fashions. The exhibition is the UK’s most extensive exhibition of African fashions to date, celebrating the vitality and innovation of this vibrant scene, as dynamic and varied as the continent itself.
Over 250 objects are on display for the exhibition, with approximately half of these drawn from the museum’s collection, including 70 new acquisitions. Many of the garments on show are from the personal archives of a selection of iconic mid-twentieth century African designers – Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou, Kofi Ansah and Alphadi, marking the first time their work will be shown in a London museum. The exhibition also celebrates influential contemporary African fashion creatives including Imane Ayissi, IAMISIGO, Moshions, Thebe Magugu and Sindiso Khumalo.
Africa Fashion showcases these objects and the stories behind them alongside personal insights from the designers, together with sketches, editorial spreads, photographs, film and catwalk footage. New acquisitions highlighting fashion trends of the day from across the continent, paired with personal testimonies, textiles and photographs, are on display for the first time.
Highlight objects include photography from 10 families answering the public call-out, an Alphadi dress of cotton and brass gifted to the museum by the designer and a new piece designed specifically for the exhibition by Maison ArtC.
Dr Christine Checinska, Senior Curator African and African Diaspora: Textiles and Fashion, said: Our guiding principle for Africa Fashion is the foregrounding of 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. To showcase all fashions across such a vast region would be to attempt the impossible. Instead, Africa Fashion celebrates 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.