The V&A to celebrate contemporary African fashion


V&A African Fashion exhibition 2022 Design by Chris Seydou (c) Nabil Zorkot

The exhibition, which is due to open in June 2022, will celebrate the vibrant African fashion scene, as creative, dynamic and varied as the continent itself. A fascinating theme as African fashion is as much about style as it about culture and people: each pattern, each outfit tells a story. The route into this visually compelling narrative will be mapped through an essential overview of the African independence and liberation years, the mid-to-late 1950s to 1994 as well as the influence of the digital scene on the 21st century fashion playground.

Fashion as a catalyst

Over 250 objects sourced from the personal archives of contemporary African creatives will sit alongside the V&A’s in-house collection of textiles and photographs – many of which on display for the first time. The exhibition will also highlight the work of 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”. The garments, exhibited along with sketches, editorial spreads, photographs, film and catwalk footage. A fantastic opportunity to see how African creativity has inspired fashion all around the world.

And you can take part!

The V&A needs your help to uncover iconic designs. So check your attics, trunks, family photo albums and home movies for the chance to feature in the exhibition. They are particularly looking for:

  • Rare and early designs by Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou, Kofi Ansah and Alphadi
  • 1980s experimental garments in bògòlanfini by Chris Seydou
  • Twentieth century kente, bògòlanfini, khanga, asafo flags and commemorative cloths from the independence and liberation years that connect to personal stories
  • Family portraits and home movies from the independence and liberation years showing African and African diasporic fashion trends of the day
  • Made-to-order garments, including aso ebi, co-created by local tailors, dressmakers and their clients, worn at festivals or to mark significant personal milestones, from 2010 onwards
  • Copies of Drum Magazine from 1950 – 1970

Found something of interest? Simply email [email protected] with the details.

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