ALÁRA at the Brooklyn Museum
A Groundbreaking Retail Experience Launches with Africa Fashion Exhibition
The Lagos-based, award-winning luxury concept store ALÁRA will make its debut in Brooklyn with an exhibition shop offering exclusive merchandise, rotating trunk shows, and works by designers across Africa, many of whom are featured in Africa Fashion.
Open June 23–October 22, 2023
ALÁRA at the Brooklyn Museum allows visitors to shop and explore nearly one hundred brands from more than twenty countries across Africa, as well as a myriad of New York– and U.S.-based designers within the African diaspora. The unique exhibition shop also includes works by many of the designers who are featured in Africa Fashion, from dresses by Christie Brown and Tongoro to beaded accessories by Lafalaise Dion. This exclusive merchandise, as well as rotating trunk shows and programming, will enrich the retail experience throughout the exhibition’s run.
Founded in 2015 by Reni Folawiyo, ALÁRA is a Lagos-based concept store that blends fashion, design, and culture. Since its launch, the store has received international acclaim for celebrating local and emerging talent and establishing a creative hub in Lagos. After meeting the Brooklyn Museum’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Rachel Shechtman, during Lagos Fashion Week, Folawiyo worked with Shechtman and Kate Foley, the Museum’s Retail Director, to bring this concept to American audiences for the first time.
Shechtman says of the collaboration: “When I experienced the magic that is ALÁRA in Lagos, I knew it needed to come to Brooklyn, and the alignment with the Museum’s Africa Fashion exhibition couldn’t be more perfect! Through this exciting retail partnership, we’re introducing our audiences to incredible designers and brands, many of which are making their U.S. debuts.”
“When I founded ALÁRA nearly a decade ago, our vision was to create a space to celebrate, elevate, and educate the world about African design; to showcase and support creative excellence across the African continent; and to serve as an authentic cultural platform,” says Folawiyo. “We’re excited for audiences in the United States to interact with the work of accomplished creatives in Africa and across the diaspora, and for this incredible community to build pathways for collaboration, exploration, and a celebration of style with New Yorkers.”
Beyond fashion and accessories from designers and brands including Ami Doshi Shah, Dye Lab, Lagos Space Programme, Lisa Folawiyo, Luar, and Turfah, ALÁRA at the Brooklyn Museum will feature a curated assortment of furniture, design objects, home accessories, kids’ toys, books, and more. Highlights include handcrafted timber furniture and design objects by Ivorian artist Jean Servais Somian of Somian Design, hand-blown glass vessels from Jamaican-born artist Hugh Findletar, upcycled metal cabinets by Senegalese designer Ousmane Mbaye, and the distinct colorful homeware of leading diasporic designer Yinka Ilori. In classic ALÁRA tradition, the space will reflect Reni Folawiyo’s celebratory approach to African design with installations showcasing the beauty, depth, and virtuosity of artisanship across the continent. A dedicated microsite featuring a selection of merchandise from ALÁRA at the Brooklyn Museum shop will be available online and will offer international shipping. There will be merchandise drops throughout the duration of the show, online and in store, with many new introductions for New York Fashion Week in September.
To kick off the retail partnership, the Brooklyn Museum will host a conversation on June 22 at 7 pm featuring Reni Folawiyo and artist Kehinde Wiley, moderated by journalist Lola Ogunnaike. Together they will explore the global influence of African culture and style.
ALÁRA at the Brooklyn Museum will be open throughout the duration of Africa Fashion. Tickets are required for the exhibition; ALÁRA at the Brooklyn Museum is free and open to the public.
ALÁRA was founded as a concept store in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2015 by Reni Folawiyo, a global fashion icon, visionary, and tastemaker across 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 in Africa, earning comparisons to Paris’s Colette.
In Folawiyo’s native Yoruba language, ALÁRA means “wondrous performer, one who thrills endlessly.” The store has presented a captivating array of projects, products, and events, quickly becoming a destination for Africa’s leading makers and minds. In eight short years, ALÁRA has hosted exhibitions of work by artists including Modupeola Fadugba and Peju Layiwola, and performances by musicians Falana and Asa. In addition, the shop was an early retailer of work by leading African designers including Cheick Diallo, Aboubakar Fofana, Ousmane Mbaye, Aissa Dione, Turfah, Thebe Magugu, and Maki Oh—alongside work by leading international brands including Christian Louboutin and Saint Laurent.
The ALÁRA headquarters in Lagos is a beacon of its values, bringing people 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 such as the Smithsonian and the NBA.
The Brooklyn Museum presentation of Africa Fashion is organized by Ernestine White-Mifetu, Sills Foundation Curator of African Art, and Annissa Malvoisin, Bard Graduate Center / Brooklyn Museum Postdoctoral Fellow in the Arts of Africa, with Catherine Futter, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, Matthew Yokobosky, Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture, and Rhea Stark, Curatorial Assistant, Arts of Africa, Asia, and the Islamic World, Brooklyn Museum.
Created by the V&A— touring the world.
Lead sponsor - Bank of America
Major support provided by ALÁRA.
Special thanks to OkayAfrica/Okayplayer and Nataal, media sponsors for this exhibition.