Last summer, Africa Fashion met with Helen Mears, Keeper of World Art at the Royal Pavilion & Museums in Brighton. She had just returned from Nairobi in Kenya and was preparing her part of a unique new exhibit that goes live this month. this will be the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion – so you can see why we’re so excited!
The museum itself sits in the centre of the Royal Pavilion Gardens, along the main road that leads to Brighton beach. It’s a short walk from the main station and easy to access. The regular exhibits have been built up over decades and are interesting but, as Helen Mears explains, it’s time for some new ideas.
“There’s been a surge of interest in contemporary African art and design in Europe and the US in recent years, so 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”.
The ‘compass points’ for the exhibition are Casablanca in Morocco, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesburg in South Africa.
“Each of the cities featured has its own fashion scene: in some cases emergent, in others more established”, she said. “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”.
“It also provides 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”, she explained.
The exhibition will occupy three large galleries and include diverse apparel from couture to street style, alongside images, film, sound and even a reconstructed tailor’s workshop evoking the drama, creativity and dynamism of the distinctive cities themselves.
- New Commissions
Especially 2Many Siblings from Nairobi
- Controversial High Fashion
Preferred by Sauti Sol – one of Kenya’s hottest bands
- The Sartists
Garments and accessories associated with a Johannesburg-based creative collective documenting their lives and style in post-apartheid South Africa
- Caftan Couture
Next generation takes on traditional garments by Casablanca-based designer Zhor Raïs
Maki Oh‘s internationally acclaimed label – as worn by Michelle Obama and other international luminaries
Keep up to date on this unique event by visiting the Brighton Museum’s special page, here. To get an idea of what you will be seeing, we have included some images from the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.