12 Nov Africa Now!
When people think of Africa from a cultural perspective, they may consider its lively cities, its breathtaking topography, its dense and complex internal political history, its diverse food landscape, its writers and artists or its fashion industry. However, what one may not fully appreciate is that these components have only contributed to universal thought as of the mid-20th century, marking Africa as a relatively new frontier for progressive thinking, education reform, fresh ideas and philosophies, writing, music recognition, design, fine art and fashion.
Covering the period of energetic creativity from the 1950’s to the 21st century, the Brooklyn Museum has curated a masterful exhibition, weaving together these disparate elements to paint a portrait of a continent on the verge of world influence.
Africa Fashion is so much more than a collection of garments showcasing fashion designers and the field of fashion design in Africa. The show deftly educates the attendee with a comprehensive historical context as an assist to understand how Africa has evolved and where it is going.
Beginning with the struggles for emancipation from colonial forces, each country is recognized with a brief history of their declared independence dates and the flag that represents them. From there the exhibition showcases prominent music and musicians, important authors and their books, boundary breaking painters and photographers and, finally, the world of fashion and its designers.
The sheer scope of this show is impressive and demands an attentive eye. There is so much to glean from the various installations and the presentation is inspiring as well as educational. I came away with a much deeper understanding of the rich tapestry that is Africa and how all the interwoven elements worked together to bring the continent to the fore.
And, most of all, for those that love fashion, the exhibition does not disappoint. From Egyptian jewelry antiquities to an ensemble co-designed by Rosario Dawson, there is a vast array of garments and looks, all beautifully creative and showing how each designer honors their individual culture through their designs and execution.
Africa Fashion is not just a show; it’s history come to life in vivid detail and with all the colors and textures that make Africa what it is (and in some ways always was).