Africa Fashion: A Transcendent Experience
Celebrating the Creativity of Over 50 Designers from 20+ African Nations at the V&A

Stuck for something to do in the midst of winter? We’ve got you covered.

Africa Fashion – the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of fashion from the Africancontinent ever mounted in Australia offers a lively overview of past and present creations fromsome of the most prominent fashion designers in the area.

The collection that has been transported from the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London,is now on display in the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Here, you will find yourselfimmersed in culture and elusive design. The collection features nearly 200 works, includingcouture, bespoke and ready-to-wear fashions, and body adornments, by more than 50 designersfrom 22 countries and regions on the African continent.

Africa Fashion showcases a captivating array of divine garments, complemented by a variety ofaccessories, photographs and films that encapsulate the creativity, innovation and enduringglobal influence of African fashion from the mid-20th century up until today. The designers alsogifts us personal insights, sketches, editorial spreads and catwalk footage that offer a glimpseinto the continent's influence within the fashion industry.

Structured in two parts, the exhibition will commence by delving into the African independencemovement and the liberation years. This first section, titled “Cutting Edge” offers a close-up lookat the emerging generation of imaginative designers, collectives, stylists, and fashionphotographers working in Africa today. The beauty is truly in the details, you will find yourselfutterly mesmerized by the opulence of the gowns. This part of the exhibition will feature workfrom new collections from Imane Ayissi, Thebe Magugu, and many more.

‘The African fashion scene is as diverse as the continent itself - there is a sense of abundancerather than lack, an unbounded creativity, and an exercising of agency that for me is really engaging. We look forward to sharing a glimpse of the glamour and politics of the scene withaudiences in Melbourne.’ - Africa Fashion curator Dr Christine Checinska

As visitors move through the exhibition, they will unearth “Global Africa” which explores howthe digital world has accelerated the expansion of the industry, irreversibly transformingfashions as we know them. The phenomenon of social media and its utilization within theAfrican fashion industry is explored here. Following on, you will be introduced to sectionstitled “Capturing Change” and "Through the Photographers Lens” which concentrate onportraiture in photography and examine the relationship between clothing andself-representation. Highlights from this section include the late-twentieth century studiophotography from Sanlé Sory, Michel Papami Kameni and Rachidi Bissiriou.

Thomas Suleiman Tumaini unveils a newly commissioned series of portraits. Through theseportraits, the Melbourne-based photographer depicts the energy and impact of the Africandiaspora community working in Melbourne’s fashion industry. Presented digitally, the portraitsappear in dialogue continuing the exhibition’s narrative trajectory from past to present.Suleiman, who collaborated with Casper for our Autumn issue, is a compelling storytellercapturing the raw essence of beauty through his lens.

Africa Fashion is on display at NGV until October 6th. Further information and tickets areavailable via the NGV website.

Words By Patrick Grady

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Africa Fashion: A Transcendent Experience