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New V&A exhibition to celebrate contemporary African fashion

The exhibition will open in July 2022.

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Alphadi, Catwalk Image, c.1992-3 (Alphadi/VandA)

Alphadi, Catwalk Image, c.1992-3 (Alphadi/VandA)

Alphadi, Catwalk Image, c.1992-3 (Alphadi/VandA)

An upcoming Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) exhibition will celebrate the creativity and global impact of contemporary African fashion.

Africa Fashion will showcase more than 250 objects and the stories behind them, alongside personal insights from the designers, sketches, editorial spreads, photographs, film and catwalk footage.

It will be the UK’s most extensive exhibition of African fashions to date, featuring 45 designers from more than 20 countries across the continent, the museum has said.

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(MAXHOSA AFRICA, IAMISIGO, Imane Ayissi/VandA)

(MAXHOSA AFRICA, IAMISIGO, Imane Ayissi/VandA)

(MAXHOSA AFRICA, IAMISIGO, Imane Ayissi/VandA)

Opening on July 2, it will “celebrate the vitality and innovation of this vibrant scene, as dynamic and varied as the continent itself”, according to the V&A.

Within the collection, there will be a selection of garments from the personal archives of a number of mid-twentieth century African designers – Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou, Kofi Ansah and Alphadi – which will be the first time their work will be shown in a London museum.

The exhibition will also celebrate influential contemporary African fashion designers and brands including Imane Ayissi, IAMISIGO, Moshions, Thebe Magugu and Sindiso Khumalo.

It 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”, the museum has said.

Dr Christine Checinska, the V&A’s senior curator of African and African Diaspora: Textiles and Fashion, said: “Our guiding principle for Africa Fashion is the foregrounding of individual African voices and perspectives.

“The exhibition will present African fashions as a self-defining art form that reveals the richness and diversity of African histories and cultures.

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Necklace, ‘Salt of the Earth’ collection, Ami Doshi Shah, Kenya, 2019. Courtesy Ami Doshi Shah. (Sunny Dolat/VandA)

Necklace, ‘Salt of the Earth’ collection, Ami Doshi Shah, Kenya, 2019. Courtesy Ami Doshi Shah. (Sunny Dolat/VandA)

Necklace, ‘Salt of the Earth’ collection, Ami Doshi Shah, Kenya, 2019. Courtesy Ami Doshi Shah. (Sunny Dolat/VandA)

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

“Instead, Africa Fashion will celebrate the vitality and innovation of a selection of fashion creatives, exploring the work of the vanguard in the twentieth 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.”

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The exhibition forms part of a broader and ongoing commitment by the V&A to grow the museum’s permanent collection of work by African and African Diaspora designers.

It will also be accompanied by a wider public programme focused on Africa Fashion, including in-conversations and talks, learning events, music performances and free to attend live events.

Africa Fashion will run from July 2 2022 to April 16 2023.

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