During our visit to Philly, we stopped by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the exhibit Creative Africa.
The show, a beautiful curation of contemporary photography, fashion and architecture, is comprised of the visionary work of artists throughout Africa. The entire exhibition is made up of five shows: Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art, Three Photographers/Six Cities, Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage, The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community and Threads of Tradition.
Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage
We didn’t have a long of time to spend at the museum so I had to pick one of the galleries. I chose to view Vlisco: African Fashion on Global Stage.
Vlisco is a one of the largest and oldest Dutch companies with a specialty in classic African patterns and textiles. The gallery holds about twenty gorgeous pieces. The colors, style, designs, textures and patterns were just breathtaking. But it wasn’t just a feast for the eyes, I learned quite a few things I had known prior to visiting this exhibit. Did you know that many of the vibrant patterns we typically associate as African prints are actually made in Holland?
The actual style and cut of the skirts, blouses and head wraps are native to central and west African countries, but the actual prints are not. I had no idea. However, just because the prints aren’t native to Africa doesn’t mean that it’s not part of their style identity. Because at the end of the day, these pieces really illustrate the fact that African women have beautiful taste and are not afraid of playing with colors and silhouettes. They do peplum right and wrap fabrics like royalty. It’s what they’ve with these textiles, not it’s origin.
According to Philly.com, “In the 19th century, Dutch men who colonized Indonesia started to print and export textiles using the country’s batik process. Paul Fentener van Vlissingen, a Dutchman and entrepreneur, founded Vlisco in 1846. Dutch traders – who eventually developed ways to make the batik prints using machines – brought shiploads of fabrics with them to African ports, and by 1876, they had established a new market in central and western Africa. Eventually, the look was refined with input from African open-air-market traders.”
Just look at the combinations of patterns? It’s fun, beautiful and full of life. It’s royalty from head to toe. And why shouldn’t we all feel like that when we get dressed? I found these pieces so inspiring and wake up call to celebrate color, fabric and design.
You don’t have too much time. Creative Africa goes down on September 25, 2016.