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Fashion Cities Africa: Meet The Influencers Who Are Using Fashion To Live Their Kenyan Dream

Sunny Dolat, 2 Many Siblings and Sauti Sol are the Kenyan “Agents of Influence” who will be featured in the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African Fashion. Exploring fashion and style in four cities at the compass points of the African continent - Casablanca in Morocco, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesburg in South Africa - Fashion Cities Africa will consider recent and contemporary fashion practices in these distinctive metropoles, from couture to street style at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery from April 2016.

The Stylist: Sunny Dolat is a Kenyan fashion stylist, creative director and production designer.  His background in visual arts set the stage for a career in evolving concepts in beauty and design, from fashion shoot mood boards to luxury hotels of international repute.  He was the creative director of the fashion film “To Catch A Dream”, starring renowned Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana, and firmly believes in the role of film as both an extension and disruption of the catwalk. His online fashion intervention, Chico Leco, has grown from high fashion editorial work into a holistic brand representing the bold, eclectic aesthetic of an eternal Africa, shifting the narrative and expectation of Kenyan fashion beyond Ankara, Kikoy and Kanga, and making unapologetic statements about the dignity of black skin.  The exhibition will feature 3 looks put together by Sunny, representing important Nairobi-based designers and body adornment makers: Katungulu Mwendwa, Kepha Maina, Ami Doshi Shah, Adele Dejak as well as 2 outfits from the Nest's film 'To Catch a Dream'.

Sunny Dolat photographed by Sarah Waiswa

Sunny Dolat photographed by Sarah Waiswa

The Siblings: Nairobi-based brother and sister duo Velma Rossa and Papa Petit (aka Oliver) are the founders of trendsetting Tumblr 2ManySiblings: ‘a curation space for art & photography’, inspired by the diverse city of Nairobi, a thriving thrift culture and a rich emerging community of young African artists and designers. Fashion Cities Africa will feature specially commissioned outfits from the plus a series of images that comment on the secondhand clothing industry (known as 'mitumba' in Kenya).
 

2manysiblings Velma Rossa and Papa Petit photographed by Sarah Waiswa

2manysiblings Velma Rossa and Papa Petit photographed by Sarah Waiswa


The Musicians: Sauti-Sol is an internationally renowned afro-pop group formed in Nairobi by vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano and Savara Mudigi. Their unique sense of style have created a stir across Kenyan media. Outfits from the group will be on display at the exhibition.

Sauti Sol photographed by Sarah Waiswa

Sauti Sol photographed by Sarah Waiswa

 

Fashion Cities Africa is part of the wider project Fashioning Africa, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Collecting Cultures programme – which supports strategic collecting projects for museums, libraries and archives.
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery already holds an important collection of historical African textiles, mostly gathered 1880-1940.  Thanks to National Lottery players, Fashioning Africa will research recent developments and establish an African textile and fashion collection representing 1960-2000.  Running until 2017, the project has appointed a collecting panel from BAME and fashion communities, and will be delivered in partnership with the University of Brighton and the Sussex Africa Centre at the University of Sussex.
Fashion Cities Africa will also be accompanied by a book of the same name, edited by Hannah Azieb Pool with contributions by Helen Jennings (Intellect, 2016, £20).  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.
ENDS
Notes for Editors

  • Members of the curatorial team and participants in the exhibition are available for interview.
  • Hi-res images are available on request or via http://www.brightonmuseums.org.uk/fashioncitiesafrica-images (login: press / dragons). Please credit photographers.
  • Press will be invited to a private view in late April 2016, further details to follow but please get in touch if you’d like to attend.

 For further information please contact Ronke Lawal info@ariatupr.com 

Exhibition and venue details
Fashion Cities Africa
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
30 April 2016 to 8 January 2017
brightonmuseums.org.uk/fashioncitiesafrica           
#FashionCitiesAfrica


Tumblr on African fashion at Brighton Museums: http://fashion-africa-brightonmuseums.org.uk/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/brighton_museums
Twitter: @BrightonMuseums
Please note that the exhibition will open the weekend before the launch of Brighton Festival 2016.

 
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the James Henry Green Charitable Trust, Arts Council England Major Partner Museum Programme, the Art Fund (*Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grants Programme) and the British Council.
Engagement activities
The exhibition will be accompanied by a vibrant community engagement and events programme, including fashion shows, a market, music, dance and performance, workshops, young people’s activities, talks and debates.  A programme of activities in autumn 2016 will culminate in a landmark international conference, Creating African Fashion Histories, on Wednesday 2 November.
Many activities will feature the individuals showcased in the exhibition – full details TBA early in 2016.
About the curatorial team
Helen Mears
Helen Mears is Keeper of World Art at the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, a post she has held since 2008. Previously Helen was African Diaspora Research Fellow at the V&A. She is also a part-time AHRC-funded doctoral student at the University of Brighton.
Martin Pel
Martin Pel is Curator of Fashion at the Royal Pavilion & Museums, and studied art history at The University of Manchester and the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. He is co-author, with Barbara Hulanicki, of the V&A publication The Biba Years 1963 – 1975, and is currently writing on a book on Jazz Age fashion.
Hannah Azieb Pool
Journalist, author and commentator Hannah Azieb Pool has written in the national and international media for over a decade.  As the Guardian’s beauty editor she wrote The New Black, the first ever beauty column for women of colour in a mainstream UK newspaper.  Former Associate Editor of ARISE magazine, her work appears in The Times, The Independent and Grazia and on BBC Radio. 
Hannah is curator of talks and debates at the Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia and Women of the World (WOW) festivals, and curated its Nelson Mandela tribute.  Her book, My Fathers’ Daughter, is a memoir of her journey to Eritrea to find her birth family. www.hannahpool.com
Harriet Hughes
Harriet Hughes is a PhD candidate in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, jointly funded by Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and the University. Her doctoral research will feed directly into the Fashion Cities Africa exhibition.
 
Harriet is the former curator of World Art for the Museum and has worked with ethnographic collections for over ten years, including curating displays of African material and engagement projects.  She has particular interests in African dress, textiles and identity, the sociality of fashion production, and the anthropology of fashion and performance. She is also interested in the representation and display of contemporary African art and culture, and in exploring how academic research can be integrated into museum display.
 
Helen Jennings
Helen Jennings is a journalist, consultant and author. Formerly editor of Arise magazine, she is now editorial director of Nataal, the new global platform celebrating African fashion and culture. She is author of New African Fashion (2011, Prestel), a coffee table book about contemporary African style, beauty and photography, and has contributed to titles including Dazed, The Fader, iD, the Guardian, AnOther and Oyster.  www.helenjennings.co.uk
About Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is one of Britain’s oldest public museums.  Located in the Royal Pavilion Estate at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, its collections showcase arts and crafts from across the world and history from Ancient Egypt to modern Brighton.  
About the Art Fund
 
The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years the Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. The Art Fund also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, including ARTIST ROOMS and the 2013-18 Aspire tour of Tate’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows by John Constable, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators.
 
The Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 117,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 230 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibition. In addition to grant-giving, the Art Fund’s support for museums includes the annual Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year, a publications programme and a range of digital platforms.
 
Find out more about the Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org For further information please contact Madeline Adeane, Press Relations Manager, madeane@artfund.org / 0207 225 4804
 
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
 
Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF invests money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.
 
www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery @HLFSouthEast