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African Fashion @ The V&A

African Fashion @ The V&A

V&A Exhibition of African Fashion Design
African Fashion Exhibition @ The V&A

Julia Burrows August 2022

“Contemporary fashion creatives are shifting the geography of global fashion the vitality of the scene is irrepressible, its creativity limitless. Now, Africa fashion shares a glimpse of the glamour and politics of this influential scene that always changing always resisting definition “        V&A Museum, London

On route to our Textile Skills Centre Associate’s AGM, Dawn and I took time out to visit our favourite Museum the V&A. Having grown up in South Africa, I was particularly keen to see the exhibition on African fashion.

What are the first words that pop in to your head when you think of African fashion? For me it would be colour and diversity, this exhibition bid not disappoint.

Africa is a large continent with various cultures.  It is approxmately 5,000 miles from North to South and 4,600 miles from East to West, made up of 55 countries, where some have more than one historical traditional costume and cultural past. Understandably, this exhibition cannot cover it all and which it has not attempted to do. The exhibition touches on the history, but dominantly celebrates African design and designers.


V&A African Fashion History

Ghana, Central West Africa

V&A Africa Exhibition article

KwaZulu Natale, East Coast South Africa

V&A African Fashion Exhibition image

Morocco, North Africa

V&A African Fashion Exhibition images

Namibia, South West Africa









1960 was the year of Africa. Over seventeen countries rid themselves of colonial rule and new sense of pride in being African played out through literature, music, art and fashion. The radical social and political reordering galvanised decades”   V&A Museum, London


Imane Ayissi, AW19 collection

A shocking pink raffia garment by Imane Ayssi(2019), set the tone of the exhibition as you enter, followed by a brief history of African textiles.



V&A African Fashion Exhibition Shade Thomas Fahm

Shade Thomas Fahm. Considered Africa’s 1st ‘Fashion Designer’








Here you also see the work of Shade Thomas Fahm, a St Martins graduate in the 1950s, who is seen as Nigeria’s 1st fashion designer.


The 2nd floor of exhibition celebrates the new African contemporary designers.   Starting with the minimalist designs of Rwandan Brand Mmusomaxwell.  It shows pleat fronted suiting and simple structured dress with an example of the pattern plate used for the print.

A colourful and playful combination of fabrics is a strong visual language of African fashion which can be seen under the heading Mixologist.

V&A African Fashion designer Kofi Ansah

Kofi Ansah, for wedding of Ashley Shaw-Scott Adjaye and David Adjaye. Ghana, 2014

African Fashion - V&A

Printing plate and fabrics

Mmusomaxwell, Rwandan Designer












African Fashion - African Fashion - Selly Raby Kane

Selly Raby Kane 2017





There is a lot to see in this exhibition and my personal favourite is the multi coloured dress that for me captured Africa. From Dakar, by Selly Raby Kane from her 2017 collection.










African Fashion V&A African Fashion V&A museum exhibition  










Africa Fashion means the past, the future and the present at the same time. The joy of life and the joy of colour is completely different and very particular to the continent. It’s a language of heritage, it’s a language of DNA, it’s a language of memories.’   Artsi, Fashion Designer, Maison ArtC

The exhibition also celebrates the politics and poetics of cloth, through moments of political importance in the country.

The significance of how the making and wearing of particular cloths in the moment of independence became a strategic political act. Indigenous fabrics and crafts such as wax prints, commemorative cloths, àdìrẹ, kente and bògòlanfini are examples of a rich textile history from across the continent. The commemorative cloth made in the early 1990s following the release of Nelson Mandela, is featured showing a portrait of the soon-to-be first Black President of South Africa with the words:


Nelson Mandela textile - African Fashion

V&A Gucci statement












I left the collection of talented and interesting designs, inspired and hoping the V&A Museum would bring us more from this often forgotten continent.

The Exhibition run until 16 April 2023 and cost £16.
Book tickets to see Africa Fashion from 2 July 2022 – 16 April 2023.

Arts @ St. George’s

Arts @ St. George’s

Arts week @ St. George’s 2022

Nicky Simpson – Course Leader: Textiles Skills Centre

Art Week @ St. George's Hospital

2022, marks Nicky Simpson’s second year working with the team at Arts St. George’s. Alongside St. George’s Hospital Charity, Arts St. George’s create opportunities for patients, families, staff and the wider community to engage in creative activities and enjoy cultural experiences, helping improve the experience of being in hospital.

July 2022 marked St. George’s Arts Week and Nicky was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with the team once again. This year’s theme was ‘togetherness’ and Nicky embraced this with a visual arts collective workshop; botanical banner making, something she had only practiced recently.

Working in the busy front entrance courtyard of St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, in the beautiful sunshine, Nicky set up her heat press and it was not long before the banners started to fill up.

Making textile art Nicky was really pleased to see the workshop act as a way to bring ‘together’ and unite the hospital community – patients, visitors and staff, meeting so many amazing people throughout the 2 workshop days, and they all had a story to tell.

Working with a heat press





‘I loved seeing everyone’s faces light up when they realised they could create something beautiful, so easily and so quickly. They all particularly enjoyed the fact that they had been part of an artwork collective, a new idea to most!’

Five banners were created over the 2 days, and these were used as a backdrop throughout the rest of St. George’s Arts Week on the community stage where other forms of art, music and dance were enjoyed.










Grace Lindley, Arts Coordinator at St. George’s Hospital Charity said:  “We are so grateful to Nicky for leading these incredible workshops. The collective banner marking was especially fitting with our theme of togetherness. Overall, it was a brilliant week, which used arts and creativity to celebrate and highlight the interconnectivity of our hospital community, and how we support each other, day in, day out, at St George’s.”







Benedict Johnson Photography


Future Sustainable Fashion Solutions

Future Sustainable Fashion Solutions

Future Fashion Solutions image
Future Sustainable Fashion Solutions

Dawn Foxall – Textiles Skills Centre, May 2022


“If you want to really learn textile and fashion skills and experience garment manufacturing in the UK, then come to Fashion Enter – this is now the ONLY place to visit and learn. We run regular school visits whereby we encourage students and pupils to have a go at the very latest technologies, both in print and manufacturing. It’s time to stop that negativity towards speed of response fashion!’ Jenny Holloway, CEO Fashion Enter Ltd.


Post covid and 2 years of PPE making, the fashion and textiles industry is back on track to push the climate change issue that is the elephant in the room of clothing manufacture.

The biggest problem is decades of fast fashion which has ingrained in our psyche, making clothes shopping a habit that needs kicking.

Perhaps this post covid recession and the onset of higher energy prices, will start to alleviate the stigma of not having a new top every time we go out, and instilling some real urgency from the industry into find new ways of more sustainable and less energy use in manufacturing.

Technology is definitely showing us the way, with ideas that began their infancy in the 1990’s. Innovative methods of manufacturing now include on-demand digital fashion and textile production technologies from companies such as a worldwide market leader Kornit Digital Ltd.

Watch video: https://vimeo.com/680325879

Kornit Digital recently joined forces with Fashion-Enter Ltd – a social enterprise in North London, which has manufacturing and an academy on-site – and announced a first-of-its-kind Fashtech Innovation Centre in London.

Kornit Fashion printing image

Aiming to bring on-demand fashion and textile mass customisation back to the UK, the Centre is fully supported by Kornit Digital’s revolutionary, direct-to-fabric and direct-to-garment digital production solutions.

30% of textile manufacturing is attributed to overproduction and 95% to water waste, Kornit’s technologies are transforming the industry with more efficient and sustainable processes. The Company’s systems boasting up to 95% less water, 94% less energy and 83% less greenhouse gas emissions, minimising the carbon footprint.




The systems in place at FashTec Centre include direct-to-fabric and direct-to-garment systems, as well as numerous graphic design and workflow tools to enable cut-and-sew operations. These machines enable a designer to print their chosen artwork/designs either as fabric, or a placement print, such as T-shirt printing and have the garments cut and manufactured on-site.

The Centre now serves as a prototype for brands and designers seeking to alleviate logistical complexities and long lead times, by bringing production nearer to the end consumer. This will ultimately eliminate overproduction, with the ability to produce on demand, contribute to local economies and remove transport-related waste.

Digital Printed Fashion Clothing image

“This Innovation Centre makes it possible to capture the full, end-to-end production process in one, single location. The beauty of having print on demand means there are no minimums, so we can make one garment, or we can make up to 30,000 garments a week from all locations at the same fixed cost. Here, we can also train future generations on the right way of producing garments for today, responsive to demand, with minimal waste—ethical and sustainable. This is the future of fashion and textiles.” 
Jenny Holloway, CEO, Fashion-Enter. 

If you’re interested in scheduling a visit to the Fashtec Centre located on

Crusader Estate, 167 Hermitage Road, London
N4 1LZ, please contact: education@fashioncapital.co.uk
https://fcfta.com     http://www.fashion-enter.com



Textile artists competition image

We are so pleased with the amount of entries and the amazingly high standard of work that we received for our first student competition with over 220 students entering!!
It was so exciting to see all the creative work being done in our schools across the UK! The judges said they had very difficult choices to make and they really enjoyed viewing the artwork and reading about its origins and development. One teacher commented  ‘this was an excellent extension and enrichment opportunity for our young people and we really appreciate your support, especially after the last few years.’

DRAYD Education logoThe competition was part sponsored by Specialist Crafts (Dryad Education) who gave £50 Vouchers to the winners and goody bags to first 3 places in each category .
The textiles teacher from the winning schools won a free place for an online course from Textiles Skills Centre and each winner received a trophy – see images below.


Prize Winners:

A Level
1st Place:   JADE LENDRUM – East Norfolk College
2nd Place:  AMELIA VENNARD – Dartford Grammar School For Girls
3rd Place:   NONUJU OLISA – Dartford Grammar School For Girls

1st Place:    SARAH AKINFAYE – Maidstone Grammar School For Girls
2nd Place:   HOLLY ROCHE – St. Catherine’s School Guildford
3rd Place:   TATE PICKERING – Holyport College, Maidenhead

We had a great line up of judges:

  • Specialist Crafts – Who sponsored the student winning prizes and goody bags –  Educational Resources | Dryad Education
    Emma Wilson – Print Designer- who we all met on one of our Textile Skills Centre ‘Tea ‘N Chat’ networing events.
  • Nicola Redmore BSc MRes PGCHE FHEA CMgr – Weave Specialist & Subject Leader for Fashion & Textiles at Huddersfield University, a regular on our ‘Tea ‘n Chats’.
  • Alice Buckingham – Junior Assistant Costume Designer – Currently working in Rumania on the latest Netflix production of ‘Wednesday’ with director Tim Burton.
  • Jamie Brown – Tailoring Designer/Maker who has already created an amazing video for our careers collection, an inspiration to our male textile artists.

STudent Textiles Competition 2022 A Level WinnerSTudent Textiles artists 2022 prize winners







Student Textiles Artist 2022 prize winners













FEEDBACK: ‘Thank you also for taking the time to consider all other student submissions from our school, this was an excellent extension and enrichment opportunity for our young people and we really appreciate your support, especially after the last few years.’

Congratulations to all our winners, and well done & thankyou to all the students and their teachers who took part, we look forward to seeing you all next year!




An Opportunity For Change

An Opportunity For Change

Transforming our Education Systems

COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption and uncertainty – how are we responding and what do we need to do to ensure a sustainable future for the Arts and Design & Technology.

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, to say the least! And it’s not about to stop, as we enter another phase of uncertainty when schools and colleges re-open and a second wave predicted.

Lockdown has changed the way we communicate with each other, socialise and work. It has been a game changer in so many ways, seeing the hospitality and retail industries, public transport and education being abruptly halted in their tracks and having to find their own way through an enforced period of dormancy and out the other side. Many will not survive and we are already seeing huge job losses, with businesses closing permanently or drastically scrabbling to rescue what they can and shed the less effective parts of their business. Some however, have thrived and grown, adapting to a new environment and taking advantage of new systems and the ‘new’ normal!

Transformations are emerging from the initial chaos. Some businesses and organisations are taking full advantage of the disruption, making more effective use of existing technologies and developing new. We have also seen individuals transforming by making changes in patterns of behaviour and the ways they work and socialise.
The underlying worry is that this pandemic is not a one off and that our ‘normal’ world will be less secure and stable in the future. That there is no new normal and much of our previous logic and thinking can no longer help us.

Education is one of those areas which has had to transform and adapt quickly and dramatically – pushed into enforced new ways of delivering learning to both students and teachers. This has been one massive learning curve for all of us involved in education.
We have duly learnt how to get around Zoom, or other live video technologies and adapted or completely rewritten Schemes Of Work and lesson plans; re-arranged our personal/work lives to fit around the children and their new learning methods and our new working lives.

We need to get back to some sort of normality in the new world we have created, or that has been adapted/created for us. Some of us, particularly working with arts and design subject areas, are having to adapt to non-specialist classrooms, not able to use specialist equipment, or working on clean down rotas for rooms and equipment. None of this is conducive to practical teaching and learning. Practical lessons have to be given a completely new vision, but we are creatives and we can think out of the box and do this.

There has been support from some education organisations and especially CLEAPPS who have been extremely supportive at affecting workable solutions to Covid-19 restrictions. Mostly, schools have had to take their own initiative and do what works best for them under the ever changing guidelines. Zoom and other online platforms are transforming the way to teach. Communication being a critical issue, from school to home, teacher to teacher – hot-desking is not just for the office and teachers need to embrace technology to be able to deliver learning.
However, all this is especially difficult for teaching practical subjects such as art and design. Solutions for D&T subjects, in particular fashion and textiles, depend on what restrictions are in place in individual schools.

At the Textiles Skills Academy we realised that teacher CPD workshops and face-to-face courses planned months in advance, just weren’t going to happen and quickly needed to rethink how we could deliver much needed teacher support and training.

Textiles Skills Academy is a teacher support organisation and CPD deliverer.  We needed to rise to the challenge of developing online courses and began to create online Training Rooms for Textiles Teachers. These Training Rooms run through Facebook and are a fast and easy way of putting together relevant knowledge, visuals, downloadable guides, video tutorials and lots of other resources, onto an easily accessible platform for teachers. Most people have a Facebook account and if not, they are easy to set up and once in the Training Room, teachers recognise the format and understand how to access and download what they need.

We have launched 6 textile teachers Training Rooms so far and developing more as we get feedback from teachers using them. Live Zoom sessions with participants, is part of the training and throughout the lockdown period teachers from as far as Porto Rico and Jersey have been able to join us, which they otherwise would not have in previous ‘normal’, workshop events.

Online courses are also being developed for student access, which will enable those who need to isolate, or cannot attend class for some reason, or those where location is an issue, can still access the learning resources they need.

These online courses are a game changer, as we begin to understand that this is the start of how our new world will look. It was always going to happen, the pandemic has just accelerated the process, forcing us to change the way we work, learn and socialise. They are also a more cost and time efficient method of delivering training, as no cover is needed and can be completed at home or at school, over a period of time, rather than taking days out of school. They will never completely replace face-to-face workshops, as we miss the human interaction and networking, but for now they will enable us to still get the training we need.

Within Each Training Room teachers work through units and are able to ask questions to each other and/or the trainers, through the discussions pages. There are also regular live Zoom sessions with the course trainer, where teachers can communicate live with each other and ask questions. We have also designed a course specifically for teachers who are facing working in non-specialist classrooms and/or with restricted resources and equipment. The techniques on this course are accessible and will adapt to a Scheme of Work for students of key stages 3-5 and will also adapt well to student use at home.

Inspirational textiles online course image

For more information go to the Online events page: https://textilesskillscentre.com/online-events/

COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to rethink what matters most in education and what we need as a society. So far the initial response has been reactive and adaptive, but we could be looking at a transition phase towards hybrid schooling (virtual and physical). This transition could allow for the arrival of a pedagogical moment and an opportunity to completely revise our current teaching/learning methods rather than simply returning to what was, when this ‘phase’ ends.

There needs to be ever stronger links with industry, to ensure the education we are delivering is appropriate to support the needs of a very changing landscape. Particularly in retail, where we see different ways of consumption developing and evolving habits and needs of society.

As we emerge from this enforced situation, our challenge will be not to proceed exactly as before, but to reflect on what has happened and what we have experienced and change the systems we have worked with for decades.

Having traditionally relied on passive forms of learning, mostly focused on direct instruction and memorizing, we now need more interactive methods that promote critical and individual thinking for the innovation-driven economy we live in today. Being more practical subjects, Art and design are by nature, interactive and can also be used to support learning across more passive fields. We need to plan for a hybrid system of educating which involves mixed online and face-to-face teaching, that will draw on both physical and virtual spaces. Future education will incorporate methods of delivering online and allowing student access to resources, to enable completion of tasks in school.

There is a whole other discussion that needs to be had around the lack of access to high-speed broadband, or digital devices and the increasing distance between the wealthier and low-income communities. This has to be tackled as we move into more technology driven forms of educating/learning.

The crisis has also highlighted the need to develop networked school communities and create a stronger educational home-school centre. We have seen collaborative networks, both formal and informal, emerging online and off. Networking is essential at every level of education, from teacher groups to student collaborations. Online groups have been a massive support to teachers, who have gone from forming new alliances for manufacturing PPE, to giving advice and ideas on ever changing situations, rules and restrictions, when planning for school return.

Networks can bridge gaps not filled by formal organisations; they can be focused on specific areas of knowledge where individuals can mentor, or support each. Informal networks are often trusted more, as they will often have different motivation than more formal groups.

Textiles Skills Academy manages a 4000+ strong, Textile Teachers Centre Facebook group and as with other FB networks, this really has come into its own, being an incredibly supportive resource and communication hub throughout the lockdown. Teachers have supported themselves and found new ways of delivering and sharing ideas and resources. A mentorship scheme is also set up within the group, enabling individuals to access or offer 121 support. Facebook was also developing new applications throughout the lockdown, as demand increased for more ‘Live’ opportunities. Within the platform it enabled live ‘Rooms’ for small groups to come together and communicate with each other.

Networks show they can provide huge support for teachers through collaboration and working in partnerships; facilitate peer-learning (such as sharing experience, information, challenges, ideas, solutions and knowledge) and encourage student/teacher learning experiences.

Despite the incredible challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been given an opportunity to transform the education system. We can evolve and change the overall purpose, content and delivery of education in the long term and prepare our education system to deal with future pandemics and crisis. This in collaboration with our networks, including overseas experiences and knowledge.

For more information please go to the Online events page: https://textilesskillscentre.com/online-events/



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