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Why African-Print Fashion Now? A Story of Taste, Globalization, and Style

Fowler Museum / African-Print Fashion Now! / UCLA Spark

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Titi Ademola (b. Nigeria); Fashion designer, Kiki Clothing Accra, Ghana; Graphic Print Balloon Dress, 2012; African-print cloth, cotton; Fowler Museum at UCLA; Museum Purchase.

Titi Ademola (b. Nigeria); Fashion designer, Kiki Clothing Accra, Ghana; Graphic Print
Balloon Dress, 2012; African-print cloth, cotton; Fowler Museum at UCLA; Museum Purchase.

This exhibition will feature the dynamic and diverse dress traditions of African-print cloth—the boldly patterned and brightly colored textiles popular across Africa—and their increasing connections to the international fashion and contemporary art worlds. The exhibition and accompanying public programs will build awareness of African art and culture, and the central role print cloth has played in the expression of African and African-American identity since the 19th century.


The Fowler will draw upon recent collections from designers Ituen Basi and Lanre da Silva Ajayi of Nigeria, Gilles Touré and Dent de Man of Côte d’Ivoire, Titi Ademola of Ghana, Adama Paris of Senegal, Walé Oyéjidé for Ikiré Jones, among others. Also on display will be the prom dress that gained internet fame for its New Jersey-based designer Kyemah McEntyre, alongside her latest creations.


The exhibition will also feature contemporary artists whose work with print-cloth reveals the continuum between fashion and art as well as the enduring meanings and legacy of print-cloth in Africa and the its Diaspora. The exhibition will present photographs by Omar Victor Diop, Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, and Hassan Hajjaj; paintings by Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga; and a mural by graffiti artist Docta.


Given the Fowler Museum’s vast holdings of African art and long history of developing exhibitions on the contemporary and traditional arts of Africa, we are uniquely situated to provide historical context to this emerging global fashion phenomenon and to challenge perceptions of Africa as static and culturally isolated. Indeed, this groundbreaking and timely exhibition will reveal the ongoing vitality and global expansiveness of African fashion. It will be the first major museum exhibition to focus on fashions from the continent and diaspora that feature African-print cloth.

To celebrate the exhibition, the Fowler will plan a rich array of public and educational programs for diverse audiences of all ages. In the spring of 2017 the Fowler will collaborate with Ankara Festival Los Angeles (AFLA) to organize a day-long African arts and fashion festival with activities for all ages on campus at UCLA. As part of the Fowler’s School Visit Program, we will provide free bus transportation for K-12 students from underserved schools to participate in exhibition tours and art-making activities. The Museum will engage the fashion academy of artworxLA—a local nonprofit offering arts classes to at-risk youth to combat the high-school dropout crisis—in a months-long partnership, culminating in a display of student fashions inspired by African-print fashion on the UCLA campus.


Be a part of the project:

On November 1, the Fowler launched its third annual crowdfunding campaign via UCLA Spark to raise $20,000 in support of the upcoming exhibition African-Print Fashion Now! A Story of Taste, Globalization, and Style and a rich array of public programs and educational outreach initiatives. This project will bring the stunning beauty and innovation of African fashion to broad and diverse Southern California audiences in 2017. Help us bring this important project to UCLA with a gift of just $10 or more and you’ll receive a variety of special perks, invitations, and more!

Go to  between November 1 and December 1 and be a part of this amazing project.

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