Objects, sketches, photos and film from across the continent are displayed in London's first exhibition dedicated to African fashion.
UK's most extensive exhibition of African fashion is set to open in London, showcasing designers past and present, as well as the continent's diverse heritage and cultures.
"Africa Fashion", at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum from Saturday, is also the country's first exhibition dedicated to the medium.
Included in the exhibition are objects, sketches, photos and film from across the continent, starting from the African liberation years in the 1950s to 1980s to up-and-coming contemporary designers.
The scene is set with a section on "African Cultural Renaissance", highlighting protest posters and literature from independence movements that developed in conjunction with fashion.
"The Vanguard" is the central attraction, displaying iconic works by well-known African designers including Niger's Alphadi, Nigeria's Shade Thomas-Fahm and Kofi Ansah of Ghana.
Over 250 objects are on display for the exhibition, with approximately half of these drawn from the museum’s collection, including 70 new acquisitions.
Many of the garments on show are from the personal archives of a selection of iconic mid-twentieth century African designers.
Addressing an imbalance
"We wanted to celebrate the amazing African fashion scene today," said project curator Elisabeth Murray, adding that the show will provide a "glimpse into the glamour and politics of the fashion scene".
Senior curator Christine Checinska has called it "part of the V&A's ongoing commitment to foreground work by African heritage creatives".
Global anti-racism movements, including Black Lives Matter, have forced Britain to reassess its divisive colonial past, from museum collections and public monuments to history teaching in schools.
The V&A was founded in 1852, as Britain under queen Victoria expanded its global empire, including, in the decades that followed, in Africa.
But Checinska said African creativity had "largely been excluded or misrepresented in the museum, owing to the historic division between art and ethnographic museums arising from our colonial roots and embedded racist assumptions".
"The conversations and collaborations that have shaped the making of the Africa Fashion exhibition are a testbed for new equitable ways of working together that allow us to imagine and call into being the V&A of the future," she added.
Displaying a diverse range of African designs, textiles and influences, the ambitious exhibition is a way to address that imbalance, she said.