The Old Courtroom

Creating African Fashion Histories

Creating African Fashion Histories

A one-day conference hosted by Royal Pavilion & Museums with the Sussex Africa Centre / University of Sussex and the University of Brighton

Old Courthouse lecture theatre, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Photo of Kente cloth from GhanaCoinciding with the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion, Fashion Cities Africa, this conference will explore the possibilities and limitations of dress and fashion history to discuss current and past narratives in African fashion.

Panels will focus on the construction of African fashion histories; the role of African diasporas in the translation of African fashions; new directions in collecting and curating African fashion and the evolution of new platforms for the dissemination of African fashion.

Speakers include Hannah Pool (author, Fashion Cities Africa, curator of Africa Utopia), Helen Jennings (author, New African Fashion), Carol Tulloch (author, The Birth of Cool: Style Narratives of the African Diaspora), Erica de Greef, Heather Akou (author, The Politics of Dress in Somali Culture) and Victoria Rovine (author, African Fashion, Global Style).

Conference fee: £50 full price, £35 concessions. This fee includes tea and coffee and, following the conference, an evening reception with the opportunity to view the exhibition Fashion Cities Africa. Lunch is not included.


09:30-10:00         Registration

10:00-10:15         Welcome

  • Anne Boddington (Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, University of Brighton)
  • Janita Bagshawe (Director, Royal Pavilion & Museums)


10:15-11:45         Panel One: The construction of African fashion histories

Chair – Nicola Stylianou, Sussex Africa Centre, University of Sussex and Royal Pavilion & Museums


  • Jody Benjamin, Approaching Africa’s History through Cloth: Production, Commerce and Consumption
  • Christopher Richards, Addressing the Nation: Accra’s Independence-Era Fashion Culture
  • Carol Tulloch, African Styles-Fashions-Dress: A Diasporic Dialogue


11:45-13:15         Panel Two: The transmission and translation of African fashion identities

Chair – JoAnn McGregor, Sussex Africa Centre, University of Sussex

Discussant – Pamela Kea, Sussex Centre for Migration Research, University of Sussex


  • Victoria Rovine, Fashion and Transcoloniality: A Century of Sartorial Innovation
  • Harriet Hughes, The trans-local fashion communities of Lagos: Creating selves, status and re-inventing tradition
  • Juliet Gilbert, Becoming ‘the classy girl’: Negotiating style, success and emerging ideas of self in Nigerian sewing shops


13:15-14:00         Lunch [not provided]

14:00-16.00         Panel Three: New directions in the collecting and display of African fashions

Chair – Lou Taylor, University of Brighton


  • Angela Jansen, The Challenges in Constructing, Collecting and Curating Moroccan Fashion History
  • Erica de Greef, Aprons, Buttons, Coats: Fashioning the clothing collections in South African museums
  • Heather Akou, The Legacy of Mary Warren
  • Nicola Stylianou & Edith Ojo, Fashioning Africa at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery


16:00-16:30         Tea

16:30–17:30        Panel Four: New platforms for the dissemination of African fashion

Panel discussion chaired by Hannah Pool with Helen Jennings, Joseph Ouechen and Mouna Belgrini


17:30-17:45         Closing remarks

17:45-19:30         Drinks reception in Brighton Museum & Art Gallery with opportunity to view the exhibition Fashion Cities Africa



You can book a place at the conference through our online ticket system or by returning a downloadable form.