African-Print Textiles in Ghana: Popular Fashion, Cosmopolitan Style
with Suzanne Gott, guest curator of African Print Fashion Now!, Fowler Museum, UCLA February 10th, 2018, 10:00am Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum
Admission: Free for current members of the TAC; $5 for students and members of FAMSF; $10 General Admission
African-print fashion—fashions based on the colorful, boldly patterned ‘African-print’ cloth produced especially for the West and Central African consumers for over a century—encapsulates the historical depth and contemporary complexity of Africa’s globalizing relationships with the larger world. In the opening decades of the twenty-first century, African-print fashion has become an increasingly globalized and dynamic terrain, with significant changes taking place both in style and in the nature of African-print cloth itself.
Decades of African-print production geared to local tastes and desires instilled a strong sense of ownership among West and Central African consumers that became especially evident in the mid-twentieth century during Africa’s independence era, when local African-print ensemble styles gained new significance as expressions of emerging national identities. For many of today’s fashion-conscious West and Central African citizens, it is this continuing combination of African-print cloth and fashion design that makes contemporary fashion truly African.
This presentation will explore the ways in which historical and contemporary developments in African-print production, consumption, and style have been shaped and expressed in one of African-print fashion’s earliest and most enduring contexts, the ‘popular’ fashion system of southern Ghana. The historical trajectory of popular African-print fashion and its twenty-first-century transformations reveal the global expansiveness and creative vitality of Africa’s fashion cultures.
Dr. Suzanne Gott (Associate Professor, Department of Critical Studies, University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus) is an art historian specializing in the arts and visual culture of southern Ghana. She has researched and published on African-print fashion in Ghana since 1990 and is co-editor of the book, Contemporary African Fashion (2010). She headed the curatorial team for the 2017-2019 traveling exhibition and book, African-Print Fashion Now! A Story of Taste, Globalization, and Style, developed with the Fowler Museum at UCLA.