‘African Fashion’ Finds New Home in London

African Fashion: Moroccan fashion designer Artsi Ifrach poses for a photograph next to his creation, A Dialogue Between Cultures
Artsi Ifrach next to his creation which is the exhibition’s centre piece. [Source: AFP/Carlos Jasso (via Jakarta Post)]

From today, Saturday, July 2nd, the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum will be hosting a first of the kind exhibition solely dedicated to African Fashion. This project will present past and present African designers and exhibit the diverse culture and heritage of the continent’s beautiful people. It was described by the project curator, Elizabeth Murray, as “a glimpse into the glamor and politics of the fashion scene.”

She said, “We wanted to celebrate the amazing African fashion scene today. So, the creativity of all the designers, stylists, photographers and looking at the inspiration behind that.” 

The exhibition includes sketches, objects, films, and photos curated across Africa. Most of the items started from the liberation of Africa around 1950 to the 1980s and incorporates the latest or contemporary designs. 

V&A was founded in 1852 as the British expanded its empire. Its senior curator, Christine Checinska, said there is a need to represent and avoid the misrepresentation of African culture. African creativity, she said, had “largely been excluded or misrepresented in the museum, owing to the historic division between art and ethnographic museums arising from our colonial roots and embedded racist assumptions.”

“The conversations and collaborations that have shaped the making of the Africa Fashion exhibition are a test bed for new equitable ways of working together that allow us to imagine and call into being the V&A of the future.”

For everyone, the project is a celebration. You will find sections dedicated to the “African Cultural Renaissance” and posters related to protests and literature from movements about independence and the fashion that come with it. The section ‘Vanguard’ displays iconic works from famous African designers like Nigeria’s Shade Thomas-Fahm. The other sections include “Afrotopia,” “Mixology,” and “Cutting-Edge,” and they explore various issues such as gender, sustainability, race, and sexual identity.

Because this is about celebrating African culture beyond its borders, the Moroccan designer created a centerpiece design for the project, something to embody that spirit. According to him, the inspiration behind the piece is from the British trench coat and Muslim hijab, expressing how to “present African in England.”

This project is the first-ever “African Fashion” exhibition, and it is celebrated in one of the greatest cosmopolitan cities in the world: London.

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