If the African Wax Print also called Dutch wax print were a child, it would be a gloriously mixed heritage child, claiming Indonesian, Dutch, West & Central African and lately Chinese roots. As a textile, it is an early precursor for the intense cultural globalization that we witness now.
The exhibition African Print Fashion Now, through its four sections takes you on the Wax textile transformational journey: from the Netherlands to Africa, from textiles to cloth, from the local African tailor’s room to the global fashion runway and the art world.
In the section “It All Starts with Cloth”, the exhibition unravels the thread of the textiles and takes you back to its origins. First, inside the Vlisco Manufacturing plant where the prints were made, and then to the markets in West and Central Africa where they were sold.
In the sixties, the pride of an emerging middle class in countries newly independent is captured in black and white portraits that are on display in the “Portraits in Prints” section.
For decades, the prints were worn almost exclusively in West and Central Africa. The creativity and flamboyance of the prints seem to be rivaled only by the creativity of the local tailors who were commissioned made-to-order outfits by their customers. Lately though, the textiles made the leap from the local tailor’s studio in Ghana as features in “Regional Styles, Fashion Preferences”, to the international fashion shows. It has crossed over into the art world as a visual reference point for the questions of identity and globalization. We are coming back full circle, back in Fashion with Ikire Jones whose modern take on the African textiles symbolizes Africa moving forward.