Image: Kofi Ansah 'Indigo' Couture 1997 - Narh & Linda - Photo © 1997 Eric Don-Arthur www.EricDonArthur.com
The V&A plans to stage a major exhibition celebrating the creativity, ingenuity and unstoppable global impact of contemporary African fashions. Opening June 2022, the exhibition will celebrate the vitality and innovation of this vibrant scene, as dynamic and varied as the African continent itself. Over 250 objects, drawn from the personal archives of a selection of iconic mid-twentieth century and influential contemporary African fashion creatives, alongside textiles and photographs from the V&A’s collection will go on display – many for the first time. Your items could also be included.
Image: Starch resist indigo-dyed cotton cloth, Nigeria, 1960-1964 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum.
Starting with the African independence and liberation years that sparked a radical political and social reordering across the continent, the exhibition will look to explore how fashion, alongside music and the visual arts, formed a key part of Africa’s cultural renaissance, laying the foundation for today’s fashion revolution. Across contemporary couture, ready-to-wear, made-to-order and street-style, the V&A will also seek to offer a close-up look at the new generation of ground-breaking designers, collectives, stylists and fashion photographers working in Africa today. The V&A will explore how the digital world accelerated the expansion of the industry, irreversibly transforming global fashions as we know them. From global fashion weeks to celebrity wearers and the role of social media and blogging, the exhibition will celebrate and champion the diversity and ingenuity of the continent’s fashion scene.
Image: Imane Ayissi, Catwalk Image, SpringSummer 2020 ©Imane Ayissi. Photograph by Fabrice Malard.
Dr Christine Checinska, Curator of African and African Diaspora Fashion, says: “Help us tell this visually compelling story of unbounded creativity, agency and self-fashioning. Check attics, trunks, family photo albums and home movies for the chance to feature in our exhibition.” The V&A is seeking the following garments: Rare and early designs by Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou, Kofi Ansah and Alphadi; 1980s experimental garments in bògòlanfini by Chris Seydou; Twentieth century kente, bògòlanfini, khanga and commemorative cloths from the independence and liberation years that connect to personal stories; Family portraits and home movies from the independence and liberation years showing African and African diasporic fashion trends of the day; Made-to-order garments, including aso ebi, co-created by local tailors, dressmakers and their clients, worn at festivals or to mark significant personal milestones, from 2010 onwards and copies of the Drum Magazine from 1950-1970.
Members of the public with objects that fit the above description are asked to get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and to share their pictures and memories on social media, using the hashtag #AfricaFashion
For more information visit www.vam.ac.uk