Fashion Cities Africa is the ‘first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion’ and is coming to Brighton Museum and Art Gallery this month. Museum staff and Africa fashion specialists Hannah Azieb Pool and Helen Jennings visited Casablanca in Morocco, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesberg in South Africa to explore their eclectic fashion scenes.
The exhibition ‘focuses on the style choices of individual ‘fashion agents’ from each city from designers and stylists to photographers and bloggers’, some of the commissions include the Nairobi-based brother and sister bloggers 2ManySiblings, outfits worn by Sauti Sol, one of Kenya’s hottest bands and hand-crafted ‘caftan couture’ pieces by Zhor Raïs, a Casablanca-based designer. Fashion Cities Africa is part of the wider project, Fashioning Africa, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Collecting Cultures programme. Fashioning Africa will ‘research recent developments and establish an African textile and fashion collection representing 1960-2000. This will be added to the already vast collection of historical African textiles Brighton Museum have on display.
Fashion Cities Africa will also be accompanied by a book of the same name, showcasing street styles in the four cities. There will also be events alongside a number of events including fashion shows, music and dance performance, workshops and debates. Exhibition co-curator Helen Mears said “There’s been a huge 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…the exhibition aims to provide a snapshot of fashion practices in four specific cities and an introduction to some of the stories behind the style, whether it’s the widespread practice of tailoring or the impact of the huge market for second-hand European clothes.”
The exhibition will be at the Brighton Museum later this month.
feature image: j-No