It is thought to be the most extensive show of African fashion ever and tells the history of the continent’s clothing along with displaying work by contemporary designers.
Curator, Christine Checinska, explained the significance of the event.
“We really see fashion as a catalyst with which to tell deeper, richer, expanded stories about the myriad histories and cultures across the continent,” she said. “And so we hope that our visitors will come away feeling inspired and perhaps some assumptions might be challenged as well.”
Charles and Camilla met African designers and fashion leaders who – in addition to their work reflecting the ending of colonial rule in parts of the continent – included modern creations which are now inspiring designers around the world.
Checinska explained: “African art, African creativity has inspired many, many designers across the globe, and I think that that continues. It was really important and actually vital to have this exhibition right now, because we see it’s the African creatives that are shifting the landscape of global fashion.
“That’s how important their impact is right now. So they demand to be seen. They demand to be heard. And we see their impact spilling out across global fashions.”
Over 250 objects are on display including 70 new acquisitions for the museum.
It comes as the V&A hopes to increase its collection of work by contemporary African designers as well as those from the past.
One of the designers at at the show is Artsi Ifrach, who described his aim to blend cultures.
“My piece is based on the two garments that come from two different cultures,” he says. “The first one is the British culture, which is the trench coat. And the second one is the burqa that is also very profound in Morocco, and all the Arab countries. In Morocco, as far as we know, it’s the North Africa. And I decided to make a dialogue between both of them and to give a respect to the two countries.”
Africa Fashion reflects periods when many African nations freed themselves from colonial rule. But includes clothes by 40 contemporary designers.
It runs until April 16 2023.