Fashion Cities Africa

Fashion Cities Africa is the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion. The exhibition opened at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, England  in April 2016. Exploring fashion and style in four cities at the compass points of the African continent – Casablanca in Morocco, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesburg in South Africa. Fashion Cities Africa considered recent and contemporary fashion practices in these distinctive metropoles, from couture to street style.

The exhibition focuses on the style choices of individual “fashion agents” from each city: from designers and stylists to photographers and bloggers.

Helen Mears, the Museum’s Keeper of World Art, Martin Pel, its curator of Fashion & textiles. Africa fashion specialists Hannah Azieb Pool and Helen Jennings and researcher Harriet Hughes visited the cities in summer 2015 to explore their fashion scenes and identify key players.

Helen Mears says: “There’s been a surge of interest in contemporary African art and design in Europe and the US in recent years, but this is the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion. we want to reveal the diversity that exists across the continent – and within single cities – and show that wax print is only part of the story of African fashion”

Each of the cities featured has its own fashion scene: in some cases emergent, in others more established. Some African designers are now major players in international fashion, while others are experimenting creatively in the interface between global fashion and local identities.
The exhibition aims to provide a snapshot of fashion practices in four specific cities and an introduction in some of the stories behind the style, whether its the widespread practice of tailoring or the impact of the huge market for second-hand European clothes”
The exhibition will occupy three large galleries and include diverse apparel from couture to street style, alongside images, films, sound and even a reconstructed tailor’s workshop evoking the drama, creativity and dynamism of the distinctive.

Highlights from Fashion Cities Africa includes:

• Original garments and accessories by The Sartists — A Johannesburg-based creative collective documenting their lives and style in post-apartheid South Africa.

2Many Siblings – A Nairobi-based brother and sister duo who will be creating original works for the exhibition.

Maki Oh – The world renowned Nigerian designer has been worn by a slew of personalities and public figures, including Solange Knowles and Michelle Obama.

• High-fashion garments worn by Sauti Sol, Kenya’s hottest band, voted MTV Europe’s Best African Act 2014.

Zhor Raïs – Casablanca-based designer known for exquisite hand-crafted ‘caftan couture’ pieces.

Fashion Cities Africa is part of the wider Fashioning Africa, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Collecting Cultures program. A parallel project which will be co-ordinated by Sarah Naomi Lee, will explore African fashion through the lens of identity and the diaspora.

Fashion Cities Africa will also be accompanied by a book of the same name, edited by Hannah Azieb Pool.

The exhibition will run from April 30, 2016 to January 8, 2017. For more information visit the Brighton Museum online.

1 Comment

  1. June 15, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    We spoke with Pool to learn more about Africa’s fashion renaissance and the designers and tastemakers — she calls them the “cool people” — who are leading the way.

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