Fashion Cities Africa was a major temporary exhibition developed by Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and on display at the museum from 30 April 2016 to 8 January 2017. The exhibition provided a snapshot of fashion and style practices in four major cities at the compass points of the African continent: Casablanca (Morocco), Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Lagos (Nigeria).
Featuring a wide range of looks, from street style to couture, Fashion Cities Africa focused on the style choices of individual ‘fashion agents’ based in each city. These agents included designers, stylists, photographers and bloggers. In revealing exciting new fashion innovations, the exhibition sought to highlight the extent to which the African continent has become a major player in the global fashion industry.
At Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, the exhibition included an additional display element: Fashion Cities Africa: Brighton Stories. Combining portrait photography and extracts from sound recordings, the display documented the unique fashion identities created by members of Brighton & Hove’s African diaspora communities.
Fashion Cities Africa was accompanied by a book of the same name, edited by Hannah Azieb Pool with contributions by Helen Jennings and photography by Sarah Waiswa, Victor Dlamini, Deborah Benzaquen and Lakin Ogunbanwo (Intellect, 2016). Following an international conference held at the museum on 2 November 2016, a further book – Creating African Fashion Histories, edited by JoAnn McGregor, will soon be published (Indiana University Press, 2020).
Subsequent to its display at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, The exhibition has been shown at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam (6 October 2018 – 6 January 2019) and at the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal (11 July 2019 – 1 March 2020).
Various display activities emerged from the overall Fashioning Africa project, including the touring exhibition Fashion Cities Africa and a temporary display of photographic prints (Framing Fashion). Both of these were shown at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.
Other initiatives also evolved from the original project: Edith Ojo and Tshepo Skwambane became partners in a British Museum initiative called Object Journeys. The initiative resulted in two new displays at Brighton Museum: Aso-oke, A Celebration of Style (Fashion & Style Gallery), curated by Ojo, and Township Journeys (World Stories gallery), curated by Skwambane.