Africa is Mainstream: From Casablanca To Lagos - African Fashion is Redefining What It Means To Be Mainstream.
With so many fashion Designers from across Africa making such a huge impact across the Western Mainstream fashion scene can African Fashion still be considered niche? Brighton Museum’s Fashion Cities Africa, the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion will give visitors the opportunity to experience a whole new realm of African Fashion.
Moroccan Fashion Designer, Said Marouf is one such fashion designer whose designs have gone beyond what is seen as "typically African" and will be showcased at Brighton Museum. Mahrouf was born in Morocco but grew up in the Netherlands, where he studied fashion at Gerrit Rietveld Academie. He worked as a costume designer and performance artist in Amsterdam and New York before moving into fashion in 2007. He relocated his brand to Casablanca in 2011, where he has found mainstream acclaim for his understated womenswear.
Labels like Maki Oh have shown the world that Nigerian fashion is more than wax prints. Label Founder, Amaka Osakwe studied fashion in Bournemouth before returning to Lagos to launch Maki Oh for A/W ’10. Her sensual, intelligent womenswear has won international acclaim, a strong celebrity following, an invite to the White House and has been worn by Michelle Obama. Housed in Alára (meaning Wondrous Performer), Lagos’s first luxury concept store which is owned by lawyer and furniture designer, Reni Folawiyo, Maki Oh reflects the international appeal of Nigerian fashion. Designed by renowned architect David Adjaye, Alara itself symbolises the power of African fashion and art on the mainstream landscape.
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.
Helen Mears, the Museum’s Keeper of World Art, says: “There’s been a surge of interest in contemporary African art and design in Europe and the US in recent years, but this is the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion. We want to 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 Royal Pavilion & Museums’ 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.
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, April 2016, £20). In it, Pool aims to correct misconceptions about African fashion, providing key context for contemporary African fashion scenes and capturing the depth and breadth of truly African fashion.
Filled with interviews with leading African fashion designers, stylists and commentators, Fashion
Cities Africa will showcase street styles in the exhibition’s 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.
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).
For further information or to attend any the press launch please contact Ronke Lawal firstname.lastname@example.org
Exhibition and venue details
Fashion Cities Africa
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
30 April 2016 to 8 January 2017
Tumblr on African fashion at Brighton Museums: http://fashion-africa-brightonmuseums.org.uk/
Please note that the exhibition will open the weekend before the launch of Brighton Festival 2016.
· Address: Royal Pavilion Garden, Brighton BN1 1EE, UK
· Opening hours: Tues-Sun: 10am-5pm (closed Mon [except Bank Hols: 10am-5pm], 24 [from 2.30pm], 25 and 26 Dec, 1 Jan)
· Admission payable by Brighton & Hove residents, free with museum admission to non-residents http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/brighton/plan-your-visit/admission-charges. *Members free – visit http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/discover/get-involved/join-us/ to find out about Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation membership*.
· Tickets: *book online for 10% discount* http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/brighton/plan-your-visit/buy-tickets-online / +44 (0)3000 290902
· Facilities: wheelchair accessible (wheelchairs available), accessible toilet, baby-changing facilities, passenger lift, gift shop, café.
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.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a vibrant community engagement and events programme, including fashion shows, music, dance and performance, workshops, young people’s activities, talks and debates. Many activities will feature the individuals showcased in the exhibition.
A programme of activities in autumn 2016 will culminate in a landmark international conference, Creating African Fashion Histories, on Wednesday 2 November.
About the curatorial team
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 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
Eritrean-born, London-based journalist, author and commentator Hannah Azieb Pool writes regularly in the national and international media. A Guardian journalist for over a decade, now freelance, she has also written for The Times, Vogue, Grazia and many others, and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio, Africa Writes and Africa Gathering.
As Senior Programmer, Contemporary Culture at London’s Southbank Centre, Pool curates the talks and debates at the Africa Utopia festival and is one of the curators at the Women of the World (WOW) festival. Her first book, My Fathers’ Daughter (Penguin, 2005), was described by the Washington Post as ‘a significant and moving book’. www.hannahpool.com
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 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.
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