Your cart is currently empty!
Three words that do not jive with my soul; Africa, British, Museum and so when I heard that there was to be an upcoming African fashion exhibition at the V&A, I rolled my eyes because it was surely to be more of the same; a show of tokenism and white washing that would seek to paint Africa in a derogatory and secondary light. When I got the invitation from Sotheby’s for a morning preview guided by the curator of the exhibition, I accepted knowing that it would be more of the same narrative surrounding African art and fashion as interpreted through western eyes and narratives.
I was fully prepared to be underwhelmed by it, be thankfully polite for the invitation after which I would grab a croissant and a coffee near the museum and head on my merry way to work.
No, it was none of my preconceived notions.
When thought goes into carefully telling the stories of cultures outside of your own, it shows, when much thought is given into the history of a continent that is often at the mercy of its visitors, it shows. This exhibition was a showing of one where lessons are being learned and careful consideration is given to telling our stories. A lot of this could have been curated based on my childhood because my mother wore these outfits in their earlier iterations when the Obioma would make that clack, clack sound to attract attention for women who wanted to cut and sew. No owambë is complete without Àśö-ebi or Àśö oké to denote whom you are with. These moments were formation parts of my childhood and to see it so represented tells the depths of research that went into the exhibition.
It wasn’t just old it was new, an evolution of where we were and where are now with a clear direction for the future, the new designers a la Tongoro Studio, Lisa Folawiyo, Maki Oh are forging a new path and narrative, their clothes are being worn on the red carpet, to movie premiers, in music videos and by home grown talent who represent the continent at home and abroad. Therefore, you should go see this exhibition more than once because it is such a finely curated walk down history lane, the tip of the iceberg but something to whet your appetite enough. It is a good one.