fbpx

Friday 30th of September 2022

Nairobi, Kenya

African Prints: A Celebration Of African Fashion

Posted On : July 15, 2022

Fashion Tribe Influencer

0

The late Ghanaian fashion designer Kofi Ansah famously said: “Without clothes, we cannot play our parts.” He first made news in the UK in the 1970s after designing an outfit for Princess Anne.

One of the more than 40 designers showcased in the V&A’s exhibition Africa Fashion, from pioneers like himself to the new generation looking to shake things up, is Ansah, a graduate of the Chelsea School of Art who would go on to launch Ghana onto the international catwalk with his innovative styles.

Most of the names will be obscure to anyone who does not follow the fashion industry, and a few are only well recognized in Africa, so this first UK display is long overdue.

The exhibition’s dazzling collection of clothes, along with the textiles, personal testimonies, photographs, sketches, and film that go with them, highlight the diversity and richness of African fashion as well as the difficulty of defining it across a vast continent with 54 distinct countries, each with their own history, culture, and influences. The exhibition’s prosaic title belies this.

According to lead curator Christine Checinska, “Africa Fashion celebrates the vibrancy and originality of a select group of fashion creatives, investigating the work of the vanguard in the 20th century and the creatives at the center of this multicultural and cosmopolitan scene today.”
“We hope that this exhibition will lead to a rethinking of the geography of fashion and affect the course of the industry.”

She cited the exhibition’s opening piece, a 2019 electric pink outfit made of silk and Cameroonian raffia, as an example of Paris-based designer Imane Ayissi’s work at the exhibition’s opening earlier this month. This piece “sits on the crossroads of fashion systems cementing Africa and its diaspora, blurring the borders between craft-making and couture.”

Beyond this striking display, one enters the first section of the exhibit, which is, in my opinion, the more fascinating part. It tells the tale of African fashion’s ascent to global prominence beginning in the middle of the 20th century through the eyes of several important figures, such as Shade Thomas-Fahm, a graduate of St. Martin’s School of Art, who transformed traditional print fabrics for modern wear and Chris Seydou, who combined Malian bògòlanfini cloth with opulent western

It’s also important to note Naima Bennis, who combined Moroccan and French couture textiles to produce, among other things, the female equivalent of the Maghrebi hooded cape.

In the post-independence era, the pioneers’ work matured to signify the political and cultural revolution that was underway.
A picture of Kwame Nkrumah announcing Ghana’s independence from British domination in 1957 while donning traditional kente robes rather than a Savile Row suit and the stylish youths shot by portrait photographers Seydou Keta, James Barnor, and others serve to highlight this period of pride and promise.

The “modern creatives” take the stage upstairs, where the museum transforms into a sort of store, aware of their background but actively upending expectations and prejudices.

Adebayo Oke-use Lawal’s of organza and pleated chiffon as part of his Orange Culture label questioning hyper-masculinity and Lukhanyo Mdingi’s fluffy white mohair ensemble from the legendary Angora goats of South Africa couldn’t be more dissimilar from our conventional perception of what African fashion is.

I really like the flowing elegance of Rwanda’s Moshions brand and the fitted Ankara prints worn by Lisa Folawiyo.
But the focus is no longer solely on design. Awa Meité’s focus is cotton, both in her clothing and in her attempts to promote Malian cotton workers, while Congolese designer IAMISIGO uses his “wearable artworks” to “decolonize the mind.”

Content courtesy of Camden New Journal & NFH

Fashion Tribe Influencer

We encourages all aspiring fashion bloggers not to give up on your dream do what you love, and saying Whats on your mind, “post regularly and don’t give up! The worst thing you can do is have big breaks of not posting—your readers will feel really disappointed, and you’ll lose their attention.”

Comments

%d bloggers like this: