Africa explored through fashion

Model on the runway wearing a red outfit.
 on November 29, 2023
Michael Hudson

In late October, members of St. James Cathedral invited the wider community to explore the vibrant African continent in a multi-faceted three-day exhibit.

From Oct. 27-29, “African Fashion: Many Threads – One Cloth” considered Africa and the African diaspora through the lens of fashion. The event included more than 20 speakers, storytellers and musicians, along with curated exhibits celebrating Africa’s traditional and contemporary fashion. The program also wove in many other aspects of African life, from cuisine and music to dance, storytelling and artefacts.

The sold-out opening night gala featured a live fashion show featuring designs by students from Toronto Metropolitan University and George Brown College. The reception that followed included exhibits, a buffet of West African foods, and a demonstration of how to fashion authentic African headdresses.

Saturday’s program included musical performances and a series of expert lectures outlining Africa’s ethnic and linguistic diversity, changing demographics, rapidly transforming societies and economic and ecological challenges. The Sunday afternoon program, which was free and open to the public, featured music, dance and exhibits, including performances by Juno-award winning musicians Donné Roberts and Adam Solomon.

The initiative was conceived of by Nancy Mallett, ODT, the cathedral’s longtime volunteer archivist, and Yosola Sholagbade-Adeoye, a cathedral parishioner. They were inspired by the 2022-23 “Africa Fashion” exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, U.K.


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