The work of Kofi Ansah, god-father of Ghana’s fashion landscape, has been selected together with three other pacesetters on the continent to be exhibited at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Ansah, who was known for his use of richly textured and boldly colored African prints, and his avant-garde creations, changed the face of Ghana’s fashion with his collections which attracted a strong customer following from both local and global markets.
The exhibition which is set to commence in June 2022, is meant to celebrate the global impact that the works of Ansah, Shade Thomas, Alphadi and Chris Seydou, who, along with their peers, represent the first generation of African designers who laid the foundation for the continent’s fashion revolution.
In response to the celebration, Ryan Ansah, Joey Ansah & Tanoa Sasraku-Ansah, founding directors of the Kofi Ansah Foundation, said: “When Kofi Ansah was suddenly taken from us in 2014, not only did he leave behind a magnificent and prolific body of work, he also laid a roadmap for successive generations of African fashion designers to follow – through his creative use of textiles, his precise and exacting attention to detail and his absolute refusal to compromise his creative vision, dating all the way back to his time at Chelsea College of Art & Design.
At the time of his passing he was a man still in the prime of his career, bringing his designs to the catwalks and boutiques of Rome, New York and Johannesburg, in addition to his significant contributions to growing Ghana’s textile industry and his partnership work with contemporaries across the African continent… the Foundation, in collaboration with Fashion Forum Africa, are delighted that his life and legacy are to be recognized and celebrated within the V&A’s ‘Africa Fashion’ exhibition.”
Dr. Christine Checinska, Curator of African and African diaspora fashion, who leads the exhibition said: “While we could happily stage the exhibition today, staging it in 2022 allows us to dig deeper into research and have meaningful conversations with fashion creatives to ensure that we reflect the fashion scene as it is experienced.
It is not the first time we have showcased Black fashions within the museum – the Black British Style (2004) and Street style exhibitions (1994-5), for example – but, it is the museum’s first major exhibition dedicated to the creative fashion output of the continent. We hope this exhibition will spark a renegotiation of the geography of fashion and become a game-changer for the field.”
As well as speaking to researchers, community representatives and fashion fans – “we respect that expertise comes in many forms,” explains Checinska – she says it has been buoying to hear contemporary designers speak about the influence of the four key designers the V&A has chosen to spotlight. “It has been refreshing to gain a further understanding of the very real impact they had, and the inspiration their work provided,” asserts Checinska.
The exhibition is emblematic of the V&A’s commitment to growing its permanent collection of work by African and African diaspora designers and, it says, to tell new layered stories about the richness and diversity of African creativity, cultures and histories, using fashion as a catalyst.
The V&A is staging a global call-out for designs by Kofi Ansah, Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou and Alphadi. The call-out for ‘Africa Fashion’ will run until 1 May 2021 and the V&A exhibition will open its doors in June 2022.
Kofi Ansah©️ 1997 Eric Don-Arthur
- This dress was created by Kofi Ansah for African Majesty in the summer of 1998 to introduce the fashion market to the innovation of using softer Kente-oke® handwoven fabric for formal evening and bridal wear. Kente-oke® is defined by its metallic gold-flecked shimmer not found in traditional Kente (loaned by HRM Ohemaa Nana Asaa Safoa II, owner of African Majesty, Innovator and Producer of Kente-oke®)
- ArtDress Shirt, 2013 (loaned by Mr. Eric Don-Arthur)
- Ewe Kente Collection Jacket. Wogagba Rainbow design created by master weaver George Ashiagbor, 2012 (loaned by Ms. Doris Ababasu Kuwornu)
- The Indigo Collection, 2008 (loaned by Ms. Salwa McCauley)
Photographer ©️2020 Eric Don-Arthur @captureghana
Stylist Joshua Darko @urtailorstailor.official
Photos Courtesy of Fashion Forum Africa