Victoria & Albert Museum: Check attics for Africa Fashion exhibition

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·2-min read

The Victoria & Albert Museum is asking people to check attics and trunks for its Africa Fashion exhibition.

The major exhibition, featuring 250 objects, will open in June next year.

It will span “the African independence and liberation years” to “the new generation of ground-breaking designers, collectives, stylists and fashion photographers working in Africa today”.

Africa Fashion will feature contemporary couture, ready-to-wear, made-to-order and street-style.

Alphadi catwalk Image from.1992-3 (Alphadi/PA)
Alphadi catwalk Image from.1992-3 (Alphadi/PA)

The V&A is asking for “personal testimonies from those who have worn.. beloved garments” which will be featured in the exhibition.

Christine Checinska, curator of African and African diaspora fashion at the V&A, asked people to “check attics, trunks, family photo albums and home movies”.

Objects which fit the bill could feature in the exhibition, which “will present African fashions as a self-defining art form that reveals the richness and diversity of African histories and cultures”, Checinska said.

“To showcase all fashions across such a vast region would be to attempt the impossible,” she said.

Starch resist indigo-dyed cotton cloth, Nigeria, 1960-1964 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London/PA)
Starch resist indigo-dyed cotton cloth, Nigeria, 1960-1964 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London/PA)

“Instead, Africa Fashion will celebrate the vitality and innovation of a selection of fashion creatives, exploring the work of the vanguard in the 20th Century and the creatives at the heart of this eclectic and cosmopolitan scene today.

“We hope this exhibition will spark a renegotiation of the geography of fashion and become a game-changer for the field.”

Items being sought for the exhibition include rare and early designs by Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou, Kofi Ansah and Alphadi, who represent the first generation of African designers to gain attention throughout the continent and globally.

Imane Ayissi, catwalk image, spring/summer 2020 (Imane Ayissi/Fabrice Malard/PA)
Imane Ayissi, catwalk image, spring/summer 2020 (Imane Ayissi/Fabrice Malard/PA)

The garments will be exhibited along with sketches, editorial spreads, photographs, film and catwalk footage.

Designer Imane Ayissi said the exhibition “will be one of the first to bring an historical perspective on African fashion and it will show the rest of the world that African points of view on fashion and beauty didn’t start yesterday”.

The V&A said the exhibition is part of a plan to grow the museum’s permanent collection of work by African and African diaspora designers.

Information is at https://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/news/va-africa-fashion-call-out