The first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion will open at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery in April 2016. The exhibition called Fashion Cities Africa will focus on fashion and style in four cities—Lagos, Nairobi, Johannesburg, and Casablanca.
It will feature apparels from Lagos-based label Maki Oh, Nairobi-based label 2Many Siblings Johannesburg-based label The Sartists, and Casablanca-based label Zhor Raïs. These designers were chosen for the exhibition by fashion agents from designers and stylists, to photographers and bloggers from each city.
Amaka Osakwe is a Nigerian fashion designer and the creator of Maki Oh. Celebrities who have worn Amaka’s designs are namely: First Lady, Michelle Obama, Solange Knowles, and Nigerian TV presenter Eku Edewor.
Exhibition co-curator Helen Mears says the exhibition would ‘‘reveal the diversity that exists across the continent – and within single cities – and show that wax print is only part of the story of African fashion.
‘‘Each of the cities featured has its own fashion scene: in some cases emergent, in others more established. Some African designers are now major players in international fashion, while others are experimenting creatively in the interface between global fashion and local identities.
‘‘The exhibition aims to provide a snapshot of fashion practices in four specific cities and an introduction to some of the stories behind the style, whether it’s the widespread practice of tailoring or the impact of the huge market for second-hand European clothes.”
Fashion Cities Africa is part of a wider project Fashioning Africa, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Collecting Cultures programme. Fashion Cities Africa will also be accompanied by a book of the same name, edited by Hannah Azieb Pool. This will showcase street styles in the four cities through images of their fashion agents by high-profile fashion photographers (Sarah Waiswa, Victor Dlamini, Deborah Benzaquen and Lakin Ogunbanwo), accompanied by profiles and essays.
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