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Monday, April 15, 2024


THEMED Africa Fashion, it’s a landmark exhibition celebrating what the organisers described as focus on Global Impact of Modern and Contemporary African Fashions.

Global impact of African fashions from the start of the independence era to today, Africa Fashion is the largest-ever presentation of this subject in North America. Through works by iconic designers and artists from the mid-twentieth century to the present, the exhibition illuminates how fashion, alongside the visual arts and music, played a pivotal role in Africa’s cultural renaissance during its liberation years, and how those elements laid the foundation for today’s fashion revolution.

Organized thematically, the exhibition features immersive displays of garments, textiles, photographs, literature, sketches, music, film, and catwalk footage. More than forty designers and artists from twenty African countries are represented, many of whose works are on view for the first time in the United States.

Africa Fashion begins with the independence era, from the 1950s through the 1990s. This period inspired a dramatic political, social, and cultural shift throughout the continent. Pan-Africanism surged, instilling a unified sense of identity—with fashion and artistic expression at its heart.

Textiles from the Museum’s Arts of Africa collection complement a display of wax prints, commemorative cloth, adirẹ, kente cloth, and bògòlanfini. The first generation of African designers to gain global attention is highlighted in the Vanguard section. Works by Kofi Ansah (Ghana), Naima Bennis (Morocco), Shade Thomas-Fahm (Nigeria), Chris Seydou (Mali), and Alphadi (Niger), dating from the mid to late twentieth century, are shown together for the first time in the United States alongside a dynamic installation of fashion photography from the period.

Capturing Change presents portraits that chronicle the independence years and document the growing sense of agency and pride in being both Black and African. As photography became more affordable, pictures taken in studios and domestic spaces proliferated.

The section Cutting Edge showcases a new generation of fashion designers and creatives with examples of couture and ready-to-wear garments. Adebayo Oke-Lawal (Nigeria) and his label Orange Culture challenge traditional notions of masculinity by introducing fabrics and colors perceived as “feminine” to menswear.

Through the efforts of the Brooklyn Museum’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Rachel Shechtman, Africa Fashion will feature a partnership with ALÁRA, a Lagos-based luxury lifestyle concept store, to create a unique exhibition shop experience. Founded in 2015 by Reni Folawiyo and designed by architect Sir David Adjaye, ALÁRA blends fashion, design, cuisine, and culture and was recognized by the Financial Times as among the world’s best boutiques. For Africa Fashion, Folawiyo will curate the exhibition shop with designs from across the continent, marking ALÁRA’s global debut. Exclusive merchandise, including items by designers featured in Africa Fashion, as well as rotating trunk shows and programming will enrich the retail experience throughout the exhibition’s run.


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