Nataal is official media partner for the upcoming Fashion Cities Africa exhibition at Brighton Museum
I am pleased to announce that Nataal is teaming up with Fashion Cities Africa at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery as its official media partner. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with the curatorial team behind the upcoming exhibition for over two years and when it opens at the end of April it will be the first (and much needed) major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion.
The ambitious project explores the style of four cities at the compass points of Africa - Casablanca, Nairobi, Johannesburg and Lagos - from the catwalks to the sidewalks and everything in between. “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,” says Helen Mears, keeper of world art at the museum. “Each of the cities featured has its own fashion scene: in some cases emergent, in others more established. Some 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 these cities and an introduction to some of the stories behind the style.”
Mears and Martin Pel, the museum’s curator of fashion and textiles, undertook dedicated research trips to these urban centres last year. In parallel, journalist and author Hannah Azieb Pool and myself also made visits to meet with key fashion players. Pool has gone on to edit the Fashion Cities Africa book (Intellect), which compliments the exhibition and features contributions from the curators and myself.
The exhibition will fill the gallery space with garments, images, film and other materials including new commissions and acquisitions. Highlights include a street style shoot with Nairobi’s 2ManySiblings, caftans by Casablanca’s Zhor Raïs, exquisite womenswear from Lagosian Maki Oh and accessories selected by Joburg creative collective The Sartists. Beyond the main show, a community initiative with Brighton & Hove’s African diaspora communities will explore the relationship between fashion, identity and the African continent from a local perspective. And the Royal Pavilion & Museums’ Fashioning Africa project extends its already important collection of historical African textiles, mostly gathered between 1880 and 1940, to encompass fashions from 1960 to 2000.
Nataal will be exploring all aspects of Fashion Cities Africa in the coming weeks, including special reports from each city. Stay tuned.
Fashion Cities Africa is at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery from 30 April 2016 to 8 January 2017
Photography Victor Dlamini, Lakin Ogunbanwo