Sunny Dolat, 2 Many Siblings and Sauti Sol are the Kenyan “Agents of Influence” who will be featured in the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African Fashion. Exploring fashion and style in four cities at the compass points of the African continent – Casablanca in Morocco, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesburg in South Africa – Fashion Cities Africa will consider recent and contemporary fashion practices in these distinctive metropoles, from couture to street style at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery from April 2016.
The Stylist: Sunny Dolat is a Kenyan fashion stylist, creative director and production designer. His background in visual arts set the stage for a career in evolving concepts in beauty and design, from fashion shoot mood boards to luxury hotels of international repute. He was the creative director of the fashion film “To Catch A Dream”, starring renowned Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana, and firmly believes in the role of film as both an extension and disruption of the catwalk. His online fashion intervention, Chico Leco, has grown from high fashion editorial work into a holistic brand representing the bold, eclectic aesthetic of an eternal Africa, shifting the narrative and expectation of Kenyan fashion beyond Ankara, Kikoy and Kanga, and making unapologetic statements about the dignity of black skin. The exhibition will feature 3 looks put together by Sunny, representing important Nairobi-based designers and body adornment makers: Katungulu Mwendwa, Kepha Maina, Ami Doshi Shah, Adele Dejak as well as 2 outfits from the Nest’s film ‘To Catch a Dream’.
The Siblings: Nairobi-based brother and sister duo Velma Rossa and Papa Petit (aka Oliver) are the founders of trendsetting Tumblr 2ManySiblings: ‘a curation space for art & photography’, inspired by the diverse city of Nairobi, a thriving thrift culture and a rich emerging community of young African artists and designers. Fashion Cities Africa will feature specially commissioned outfits from the plus a series of images that comment on the secondhand clothing industry (known as ‘mitumba’ in Kenya).
The Musicians: Sauti-Sol is an internationally renowned afro-pop group formed in Nairobi by vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano and Savara Mudigi. Their unique sense of style have created a stir across Kenyan media. Outfits from the group will be on display at the exhibition.
Fashion Cities Africa is part of the wider project Fashioning Africa, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Collecting Cultures programme – which supports strategic collecting projects for museums, libraries and archives.
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery already holds an important collection of historical African textiles, mostly gathered 1880-1940. Thanks to National Lottery players, Fashioning Africa will research recent developments and establish an African textile and fashion collection representing 1960-2000. Running until 2017, the project has appointed a collecting panel from BAME and fashion communities, and will be delivered in partnership with the University of Brighton and the Sussex Africa Centre at the University of Sussex.
Fashion Cities Africa will also be accompanied by a book of the same name, edited by Hannah Azieb Pool with contributions by Helen Jennings (Intellect, 2016, £20). This will showcase street styles in the four cities through images of their fashion agents by high-profile fashion photographers (Sarah Waiswa, Victor Dlamini, Deborah Benzaquen and Lakin Ogunbanwo), accompanied by profiles and essays.