Tag: west coast

When thinking about fashion, it’s sometimes easy to focus on superficial notions of trends, and of how clothing looks, not what it means. But anyone who attends “Africa Fashion,” the impressive exhibition at the Portland Art Museum, will come away dazzled by the creativity and vision of the designers, and with a sense of how the clothing on display reflects the complex, rich and wide-ranging history of the continent, and the cultural influences that have intermingled there.

“Africa Fashion” was created at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The Portland Art Museum show is the exhibition’s only West Coast stop. Christine Checinska, senior curator of African and Diaspora Textiles and Fashion, curated the exhibit, with Project Curator Elisabeth Murray. The exhibition was curated for Portland by Julia Dolan, the Portland Art Museum Minor White senior curator for photography.

As to how “Africa Fashion” came to make Portland its only West Coast destination, Checinska wrote in an email from London that, “We were keen to share ‘Africa Fashion’ with audiences in the West Coast and the V&A have had a long relationship with (the Portland Art Museum). There was a natural meeting of minds in terms of the desire to give audiences a glimpse of the glamour and politics of the African fashion scene, a scene as diverse and varied as the continent itself and indeed across Global Africa.”

The Africa Fashion exhibit at The Portland Art Museum

The “Africa Fashion” exhibit at The Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon, continues through Feb. 18, 2024. Mark Graves/The Oregonian

As Checinska writes in the “Africa Fashion” catalogue, “the history of fashion in Africa, as everywhere, evolved from centuries of layered cross-cultural exchange, appropriation and transformation. Yet African fashions have been subjected to misrepresentation through the play of stereotypes that have historically presented African styles of dress either as unchanging,

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