ALÁRA at the Brooklyn Museum
June 23 - October 22, 2023
Alára was founded as a concept store in Lagos, Nigeria in 2015 by Reni Folawiayo, a global fashion icon, visionary and tastemaker across cultural disciplines. Since its inception, Alára has steadily grown in influence, forming a cornerstone of Lagos’s booming cultural scene and becoming internationally recognized as a powerhouse of creative activations on the continent, earning comparisons to Paris’s Colette.
In Folawiyo’s native Yoruba language, Alára means ‘wondrous performer, one who thrills endlessly’ and since its inception nearly a decade ago, Alára has presented a captivating array of projects, products, and events, quickly becoming an unparalleled cornerstone of Lagos’s booming cultural scene and a mecca for Africa’s leading makers and minds. In eight short years, Alára has hosted exhibitions of work by artists including Hassan Hajjaj, Modupeola Fadogubla, and Peju Layiwola, performances by musicians Falana and Asa, and were early stockists of work by leading African designers including Chiek Diallo, Abubakar Fofana, Ousmane Mbaye, Yinka Illori, Aissa Dione, Turfah, Thebe Magugu, and Maki Oh, to name a few – alongside leading international brands including Christian Louboutin and Saint Laurent.
Housed in an iconic David Adjaye-designed building, Alára’s headquarters in Lagos is a beacon of its values, bringing communities together to celebrate the best in culture, music, design, and art. Over the years, Alára has also become the international community’s home in Lagos, hosting events and activations with iconic institutions including the Smithsonian, and the NBA.
About Reni Folawiyo
Reni Folawiyo is a cultural entrepreneur from Lagos, Nigeria, known for her visionary role in shaping and defining contemporary African style. As the founder and director of Alára – Africa’s leading space for culture, fashion, art, food, and design, housed in a bespoke David Adjaye-designed space on Lagos’ Victoria Island – she is a global leader in discovering, growing and celebrating talent from the African continent on a global stage. Widely recognized as a fashion icon and tastemaker across disciplines, Folawiyo has been a foundational guiding force and influential partner to many of the leading creatives working in Africa today.
The founding of Alára in 2015 was prefigured by decades of support, collaboration, and coordination with creatives across the continent. While still in her 20s and embarking on a career in business and law, Folawiyo began to host salons for artists and designers, organizing retreats in her home to commune, develop work, and build relationships. This collective of artists, designers, and friends grew steadily over the years, but early participants include designers who are deeply influential to contemporary African style. Over time, Folawiyo began to travel across the continent to seek out talent shaping a contemporary African aesthetic and style, and this exploration led to enduring relationships with key figures like Aissa Dione and Abubakar Fofana as the conversation on art and design also steadily evolved to center work in fashion and textiles. From this network, Folawiyo founded her concept store, bringing together works from her vast network of creatives, the result of a lifetime dedicated to finding, supporting, and growing a contemporary perspective on African style.