Lorene Rhoomes, aka Akhu Designs Ankara fabric
The days may be depressingly 50 shades of grey (in all senses), but for some entertaining and informative events this month that don’t focus on half-hearted BDSM-tinged Valentine’s promotions then HEAD THIS WAY…
The second of my series of events as part of the Women, Fashion, Power exhibition at the Design Museum is underway on 23rd February. The series examines how women use dress to negotiate issues around power throughout history and across cultures, and this month it’s Power, Dress and Spirituality in West Africa – Lorene Rhoomes of Akhu Designs on the textiles and head wraps of the region. Head wraps are an essential part of African history and culture. In sub-Saharan Africa they were traditionally worn by women to prove they were prosperous and spiritual, and elaborate Nigerian gele and Ghanaian duku are worn today for celebrations, religious occasions or as an expression of cultural pride. Lorene Rhoomes, designer behind Akhu Designs, shares her passion for West African dress, looking at the vital role of textiles in the region and finishing with a head wrap workshop. A number of fabrics will be covered from the sacred Kente, dubbed the Akan Royal Cloth; Adire, resist-dyed indigo cloths that historically symbolised wealth and nobility among community chiefs, and Ankara, also known as Dutch Wax, which has a long and intricate history ranging from Indonesia to Holland, Manchester and West Africa, whose stories of colonialism and identity are often used in the artwork of Yinka Shonibare.
Richard Anderson, picture © Jasper Clarke Sebastian Horsley in the red sequin suit made for him by Anderson
Then on 24th February join me at the Museum of Curiosities for Richard Anderson: Tailoring for the 21st Century. Richard Anderson runs the leading independent bespoke tailoring house on Savile Row, and has spent all of his working life on the Row. His book, Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smooth about his early years was published to great acclaim, and his links to the Museum are well-established: he is the master craftsman behind the red sequin suit on display, previously owned by artist Sebastian Horsley. Richard’s desire is to bring new blood into the craft of tailoring, passing on some of the invaluable lessons he has received to the next generation. I will be in conversation with Richard, discussing the history and evolution of Savile Row, and how it has adapted to the 21st century.
Following the discussion, Fenella Hitchcock will be discussing her research into the Sebastian Horsley archive. Fenella is a writer and researcher and has worked as a pattern cutter and assistant producing fine art sculpture and taxidermy. After finishing training in pattern cutting and design, she catalogued the Museum of London’s acquisition of clothing and ephemera belonging to Sebastian Horsley. Currently a postgraduate student at London College of Fashion, her dissertation ‘Hookers, Dealers and Tailors’ focuses on biography, loss and memorial within the various Sebastian Horsley ‘archives’.
IN OTHER NEWS…
I wrote a manifesto in defence of fashion history, for the history issue of Soho House magazine. If you’re able to get hold of a copy, I discuss all things from Louis XIV to the Industrial Revolution.
And finally, Nautical Chic is available for PRE-ORDER! Out next month, you can now pre-order a copy through Foyles or the Guardian bookshop. My advance copies have arrived! Both UK (Thames and Hudson) and US (Abrams) editions. EXCITING TIMES!