Last Thursday -after visisting trainees- I had some time left over to go to the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem Arnhem is the City I was born 53 years ago, and where I visited Art School. It is not my favourite museum, but sometimes there are great exhibitions and the one on Vlisco Fabrics has just openened and is really worth a visit.
The title of the Exhibition is "Six Yards", because the fabric is only sold in Six Yards.Vlisco.....perhaps not a name that rings a bell immmediately. My first encounter with Vlisco fabrics was when I had to design 1 outfit for my first Fashion Show at ArtSchool. We had to use left over fabrics from Vlisco and make something out of it. The fabric was OverPrinted in many layers, but after bleeching and dyeing and some embroidery out came this outfit based on the MiddleAges.
The fabric is designed and printed in Helmond in the Netherlands and than exported to many countries in Africa. It is a very old and respectable Dutch Textile Firm which started at the end of the 19th Century. It is still going on, and it is still going strong.
To have a real Dutch Wax is a Big Fashion Dream from many Women in Afrika. To buy and show off an outfit made with this fabric means that you have entered the Upper Class. If you are Seriously Rich you have many Yards in your wardrobe. Most of the fabrics tell a story and it is a way off Communication. It is not that the Designers of the patterns are thinking of communication when they are drawing the prints, but the Women wearing them name them and than Communication starts..This one is called "La Famille".
Many of the fabris have those underlaying Messages. Not always visible to us, but very visible to the women wearing them.
The exhibition starts with a breathtaking Installation from Yinka Shonibare. I did see his work for the first time years ago at the Exhibition "Sensation" in London in 1997. In 2004 he had a big Solo Exhibition in Museum Boymans van Beuningen in Rotterdam and since that time I am really interested in his work.
Most of the Fabric are sold on markets by so called Mamma's Benz, but because Vliso is becoming more and more a Life-style Brand the first Flagship stores have been opened. There, not only the fabrics can be bought but also matching handbags, shoes etc.
Vlisco is a Real Fashion Icon in Africa.....
In the last room of the exhibition garments, made out of the fabrics are shown. Not always wearable as in this Textile Sculpture from Lucy Orta
In the middle is a big group dressed in garments from Acne, Dries van Noten, Collectie Arnhem, Petrou/Man
Vlisco Fabrics.... I Love them...
The Exhibition is running till the 6th of May...