Celebrated Ghanaian designers Kofi Ansah and Christie Brown were feautured in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s much-anticipated ‘Africa Fashion’ exhibition which took place July 2 in London, UK.
This exhibition which paid homage to the impact of contemporary African fashion creatives had several fashion top names and creatives in attendance including the likes of Ghanaian British editor of Vogue, Debs Ababio, Executive director of Entertainment at Condé Nast, fashion storyteller Aretha and many others.
The curator of African and African diaspora fashion at the V&A, Christine Checinska, said the exhibition was overdue. “It is a moment of transition that marks the commitment that we have to celebrate African creativity across the board,” she said.
“We wanted to showcase the pan-African fashion scene – that’s really what connects the creators in the show,” Checinska added. “So whether it’s Morocco to South Africa or Ghana in the west, [we want] to try to strategically break down those old colonial boundaries.”
Located in the fashion galleries, Africa Fashion is divided into two parts. The downstairs section covers historical outfits and images from the 1950s onwards, while the upstairs is devoted to contemporary designers and photography.
The former section was dedicated to African fashion history which has been largely overlooked by UK galleries until now. It included moments such as the then Ghanaian prime minister Kwame Nkrumah wearing kente cloth to announce his country’s independence from British rule in 1957, and the popular studio portraits by photographers including Rachidi Bissiriou, Sanlé Sory and Seydou Keïta, from the 1960s and 1970s.
The exhibition included 45 designers from over 20 countries from across the continent. Batiks, tie and dye designs, wax prints, black tie and kente outfits were among the 250 pieces on display. Garments from the personal archives of Christie Brown the late Kofi Ansah, whose pieces featured in the Wachowski Sister’s Matrix Trilogy, and were at the forefront of the exhibition.
V&A’s Africa Fashion exhibition explored fashion’s cultural and historical impact on the continent while recognising the contributions of designers such as Ghana’s Kofi Ansah and Christie Brown, Cameroon-born designer Imane Ayissi, Nigeria’s MaiAtafo, Lisa Folawiyo and Folashade “Shade” Thomas-Fahm among others.
Joey Ansah (Bourne Ultimatum), son of the late Kofi Ansah, posted slides of the exhibition on his Instagram feed.
Before the exhibition Christie Brown’s creative director Aisha Ayensu hosted V&A’s Christine Checinska and Callum Walker at their workshop in Korle Gonnor, Accra. The visit included a joint-interview with BBC’s Brenda Emmanus for a documentary in collaboration with the V&A Museum called Africa Fashion: On It’s Own Terms. This documentary will cover African creatives and disruptors and how their innovation is capturing the world stage.
The documentary is set to air on BBC World and BBC News Channel.
Scroll down to see clips and pieces from Kofi Ansah and Christie Brown on display at the V&A Africa Fashion Exhibition.
The V&A Africa Fashion Exhibition runs till April 16.