'There are many ways to be fashionable and African', states the fabulous and vibrant exhibition entitled: Africa at the V&A museum in London.
There is no fear of colour or print, or of mixing it all up. The joyous fun of Africa is expressed here in myriad fabrics using age old techniques. As the museum states: ''The Africa we reference has multiple histories, cultures and creative expressions."
I particularly loved a wonderful pink trouser and cape by Ayissi made of silk and linen with Cameroonian raffia. I would wear it with my Moroccan inspired Raffia earrings for a summer wedding.
The wonderful geometric black and white prints of Chris Seydou printed on "bogilanfini" a cotton or wool cloth dyed with fermented mud. This technique has existed for about 800 years in Mali. It reminded me of our photo shoot in Taroudant, Morocco against a similarly patterned backdrop.
The designer Naima Bennis worked in Morooco in the 1970s, using the traditional Moroccan style of kaftans and embellishing them with an embroidered cloak or "Bernous".
Clothing has been a great way to express the new found freedom of many of the new nation- states. As the exhibition says: "fashion was fundamental to the decolonisation of minds".
'Adire' is an indigo resistant cloth from Nigeria. Adire literally means "tie and dye" and is used with stencils to create the amazing geometric patterns, like shades of denim in print.
"Novel and playful combinations of materials are a meaningful part of the African fashion scene .....and deliberately place African fashion in the conversation of exchange''.
Jewels made of cowrie shells by Lafalaise Dion.
Fabulous necklace of recycled brass by Adele Dejak.
Wedding dress by Imane Ayissi weaving silk and hemp embellished with "obom" or bark cloth from Cameroon. From his Spring Summer 2020 collection in Paris.
It is wonderful to think that the African fashion industry is worth an estimated $31 billion, much of it from unknown small fabric designers, seamstresses and tailors all over the continent. If you want an unusual and inspiring experience, I thoroughly recommend a trip to see the magic of African Fashion at the V&A in South Kensington.