Africa Fashion

Anna Wintour said hello to me the other day (what a great way to start a piece!). She was visiting the V&A to visit Africa Fashion and that reminded me that I’d taken a whole selection of images and not got round to posting them. I am going to let the images mostly speak for themselves, apart from the odd quote or two. I will say it is wonderful to see fashion with a different history and set of references.

Africa Fashion celebrates the vitality and innovation of a selection of fashion creatives from over 20 countries, exploring the work of the vanguard in the twentieth century and the creatives at the heart of this eclectic and cosmopolitan scene today. This is the first exhibition in the V&A’s 170-year history to focus on Africa’s creativity’ Dr Christine Checinska, Curator V&A

‘By drawing on lived experiences and cultural knowledge alongside research, we can make exhibitions that truly resonate with our audiences, and actively include those with stories to share. As we’d hoped, the (focus) groups brought invaluable insights to this complex story of African fashions, shedding light on the role African diasporic lived experiences have within that. In particular, discussions about the tone of voice used to narrate the exhibition, how and if we could incorporate African languages, how we should emphasise the multiplicity and diversity of cultures on the continent, and ideas for the events programme, were crucial.’ Janet Browne, Senior Producer in Audience Development.

‘It is incredibly emotional to visit an exhibition in a place such as the V&A and see representation of my culture, to see myself looking back’ Thandiwe Newton

‘In the light of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, we want to stand in the margins and look back at the world. This exhibition gives us the chance to ask ‘What does fashion look like from Africa?’ And we remap the world. I think that is beautiful… I’ve spent my life going around exhibitions and looking for things that might reflect my history or heritage.’ Gus Caseley-Hayford, Director V&A East

Africa Fashion runs at the V&A until the 16 April 2023, and if Anna Wintour thinks it is worth a visit, then who am I to disagree.

Text and Images ©Jonathan Dredge

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