Celebrating 'Africa Fashion' at Brooklyn Museum

Friday, July 7, 2023
Celebrating 'Africa Fashion' at Brooklyn Museum
A landmark exhibition now open at the Brooklyn Museum celebrates the fashion of Africa over the past 60 years. Sandy Kenyon has more.

BROOKLYN (WABC) -- A landmark exhibition now open at the Brooklyn Museum celebrates the fashion of Africa over the past 60 years, and it begins by showcasing the designers who came to prominence there during the middle of the last century.

It was a time when more than 50 countries finally gained their independence and the result was a stunning explosion of culture that still resonates today.

The thrill of liberation is obvious in the fabrics and colors of "Africa Fashion," the largest such collection ever shown, with more than 300 items.

They're from a time when colonial rule was ending and when new countries were being born.

"Post-independence, individuals were then able to re-imagine who they were thru their sense of style," said Ernestine White-Mifetu, African Art Curator.

White-Mifetu and her associate Annissa Malvoisin reminded me that just a few years earlier Black citizens had been very restricted.

"Confined by the colonial restrictions of the past where what you wore, your cultural attire was taboo," White-Mifetu said.

It was only after freedom had been secured that their leaders could show the way forward by tapping into tradition, and designers were finally able to express themselves freely.

"You see a very deliberate leaning into the cultural traditions of these designers so they start to kind of amplify the use of traditional textiles and include that into their designs," said Annissa Malvoisin, Museum Fellow.

How that evolved is apparent in the exhibit's biggest room featuring 40 contemporary designs.

"What we're looking at in this particular space is the culmination of this idea of independence and freedom," White-Mifetu said.

Innovation came in front of and behind the camera, so there's plenty of photography alongside fashion. At a special store, you can shop nearly 100 African brands, a fitting end to a rare and wonderful experience.

"I think that the visitor will be completely stunned and encounter a lot of joy and celebration," Malvoisin said.

READ MORE | 7 On Your Side averts Taylor Swift concert calamity for a young fan

Nina Pineda has more on how 7 On Your Side helped a young girl who had won tickets to see Taylor Swift but got slighted.


* More Brooklyn news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.