Celebrated Ghanaian designers the late Kofi Ansah, Christie Brown, and Papa Oppong have made their mark in the fashion world as their works are featured in the prestigious Brooklyn Museum Africa Fashion Exhibition.
This exhibition, which is an iteration of the iconic V&A Museum exhibition that took place in London, UK, in July 2022, showcases over 180 pieces from 20 different countries.
Among the esteemed visitors who took the time to explore the original exhibition in London was King Charles himself.
Now, the exhibition has crossed the pond to New York, where it finds its new home at the renowned Brooklyn Museum which is one of the first institutions to present African art to American audiences.
The Brooklyn Museum commemorated the 100th anniversary of its first African art exhibition staged in April earlier this year and it is only fitting that the museum now plays host to Africa Fashion.
Curators Ernestine White-Mifetu and Annissa Malvoisin have put their unique spin on the V&A’s concept, maintaining the original themes of the exhibition while infusing it with added insights inspired by its new location.
Curator Annissa Malvoisin expressed her excitement about bringing the exhibition to Brooklyn, considering it to be the perfect location.
“We were very excited to bring this to Brooklyn, which we think is one of the perfect places to bring it,” Malvoisin told digital media platform, OkayAfrica.
The curators said they were thrilled to be the first North American venue to showcase this comprehensive survey of African fashion.
“We’re also so excited to be the first North American venue to showcase this really amazing survey,” she shared
The exhibition allows North American audiences to appreciate the full beauty of the garments and gain a deeper understanding of the designers in a physical space.
“A lot of designers that are part of the show have been celebrated and appreciated globally, and North American audiences, having bought a Christie Brown, or a Lisa Folawiyo, perhaps for a special occasion, now get to see the kind of full beauty of the actual garments; to get a better sense of who these designers are, in a physical space,” White-Mifetu added.
Talented Ghanaian designer and illustrator, Papa Oppong, whose works have been selected for the exhibition took to Instagram to share the exciting news.
In his caption, he expressed his awe and gratitude for his work being showcased in this historic exhibition at the iconic Brooklyn Museum.
Papa Oppong highlighted the collaborative effort and the challenges overcome, particularly during a global pandemic, to make this exhibition a reality.
“Ah what a refreshing chapter in the book of Papa Oppong. To see my work up in this iconic museum that I’ve grown to love in this historic exhibition is just mind-blowing!” he revealed.
The exhibition follows the themes of the original show, beginning with Ghana’s independence as the first African country to gain autonomy.
The Cultural Renaissance section explores the transformative changes that occurred during the ’50s, ’60s, and early ’70s.
Through fashion, photography, books, protest posters, vintage magazine covers, and iconic album cover art, visitors can immerse themselves in the contextual backdrop of the exhibition.
The exhibition also pays homage to the music and iconic figures of the time, with significant space dedicated to artists such as Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Miriam Makeba. Visitors can view garments worn by Fela and images by his album cover designer, Lemi, alongside iconic images of Makeba from Drum Magazine.
These elements capture the energy, self-expression, and cultural significance of the era
The Vanguard section of the exhibition showcases the groundbreaking works of the first generation of African designers to gain global recognition. Works by Kofi Ansah (Ghana), Naima Bennis (Morocco), Shade Thomas-Fahm (Nigeria), Chris Seydou (Mali), and Alphadi (Niger) are displayed together for the first time in the United States. They are accompanied by a dynamic installation of fashion photography from the mid to late twentieth century.
Africa Fashion opens on June, 23 with talks by selected guests on Africa’s Influence during Brooklyn Talks on June 22 at 7 pm.