Surrealism, Africa, Holland, and Me
I’ve been making a lot of dresses based on the Piece of Cake frock pattern by Jody Pearl of Sew Outside the Lines and when the above pictured African wax print textile (lower fabric) arrived at my attelier (purchased here) , I decided to make something in a queenly maxi length. I also became utterly obsessed with this gorgeous fabric, searching high and low for info about it. Is it genuine wax print or fake? Most importantly, what ARE those strange objects and why do I find them so impossibly alluring?
My research deadended and I sort of gave up, and then, while searching for more textiles on Etsy, I came upon the above (purchased here). Uhhhh, wait a minute! That’s MY textile. And I like it even better in this crazy colorway! I immediately contacted the lovely seller, Angela, who came forth with loads of info about the The Gallery of Poems textile collection from Vlisco, renowned Dutch (not African) textile manufacturer.
Here is Vlisco’s description of their 2011 Collection: GALLERY OF POEMS: DRAMATIC ROMANTICISM
Once upon a time, Vlisco created a mysterious new fabric collection called ‘Gallery of Poems’. Dreams wander, floating into your own fairyland. Step into a new world and view the designs as objects of inspiration. Some designs will magically transform into a piece of art, adding a romantic touch to the poetic drama, while others illustrate a surrealistic passing of time. The decorative collection is intensified by a flamboyant colour palette. ‘Gallery of Poems’ makes you feel like a fairytale beauty.
This is where I about fell on the floor. Surrealism? Although this is another story for another time, suffice to say that at age 14 I came under the influence of members of the American Surrealist Movement (one of whom remains one of my oldest friends), and my life at that point was forever changed. Thus, it seemed that my locating this textile, and the subsequent journey into the world of high-fashion African wax prints, was deeply connected to other aspects of my life as an artist.
Of course, me being me, it doesn’t end there. The above video from Vlisco is absolutely fascinating, explaining the wax print process (pattern ends up on BOTH sides of the cloth) and a lot about the history of the company. These fabrics are so incredible, words can not express. Vibrant color, a slightly stiff substantial hand, and beyond gorgeously weird concepts that combine traditional African imagery with modern Western icons in a global village collision that makes my head spin. Pricing aligns with the incredibleness… yardage is sold only x6 yards and at $15 per, + shipping from the UK… OMG. Here’s your source; Vogue Fabrics UK.
I’m obsessing over the four textiles shown here.
Know someone who might want to share yardage? Put them in touch, ASAP!
…want to make more dresses!
PS: Added bonus video; How to tie tradtional African Gele (head wrap):