V&A to display its first African fashion exhibition | V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum will host its first African fashion exhibition this week, more than 170 years old.

Featuring designers who worked under names such as Beyonce and architect David Adjaye, African Fashion aims to showcase designs, photographs and films from 25 of 54 countries and overlook fashion on the continent. I am.

Christine Checinska, curator of African and African diaspora fashion at V & A, said the exhibition was postponed. “It’s a transitional moment that shows our commitment to fully celebrate Africa’s creativity,” she said.

V & A was founded in 1852 and its heritage and status are linked to British colonialism throughout Africa. After being filmed during a British operation in Ethiopia in 1868, some of its most valuable objects were acquired thanks to colonialism, such as the McDara treasures in the V & A collection. This exhibition can be seen as part of a broader movement that recognizes these. Bringing history and a wider range of voices to the institution.

The exhibition was created over two years ago. The curator team consulted with outside experts, a group of African diaspora youth, and an intergenerational community panel. The designer was also involved in choosing how to display the work.

Wedding of David Adjaye and Ashley Shaw Scott. Photo: Robert Fairer

“We wanted to introduce the Pan-African fashion scene, which is what connects the creators of the show,” says Checinska. “So whether it’s Morocco to South Africa or Ghana in the west, [we want] It’s about trying to strategically break those old colonial boundaries. “

African fashion in the fashion gallery is divided into two parts. The lower floors cover historical costumes and images from the 1950s onwards, while the upper floors are dedicated to contemporary designers and photography.

The previous section is an introduction to the rich fashion history that has been overlooked in most British galleries. Ghana’s then Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah wore a Kente cloth to announce his independence from British rule in 1957, and from the 1960s to the 1970s, popular studio portraits by photographers such as Rakidi Vicilio, San Resory, and Seidu Keita. Such moments are included.

In other cases, I’m looking for a job as a fashion designer. Some of them are famous throughout Africa, but little is known outside the continent. Notable names include Alphadi, a designer from Niger who used Tuareg’s traditional metalwork for gorgeous dresses in the 1980s, and Shade Thomas-Fahm, a designer used by Nigerian women as work clothes in the 1970s. increase.

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In the gallery on the second floor, contemporary design is very political. Brands such as RichMnisi, Orange Culture and Sindiso Khumalo are working on collection feminism and LGBTQI + rights.

“I don’t think it’s new,” said Chesinska, pointing to a print commemorating independence in the history section. “What if I don’t wear a message? It’s almost a modernization of that textile tradition.”

Aesthetics with roots in African countries have long been exposed to cultural appropriation by being used by European designers in their collections. African fashion intentionally does not address this hot button issue. “This is a great job and I don’t want people to miss it,” Chesinska said. “We are centered on African creativity and want people to participate, inspire, leave, respectfully accept and engage.”

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