November 4, 2013

Vlisco Unfolded

The new Vlisco collection Celebrate celebrates the art of drawing. The focus for the campaign is on the designers. It is their different styles that makes the typical Vlisco patterns so recognizable. In the Vlisco Unfolded exhibition this aspect of Vlisco was also nicely shown. In my previous post "Natural Dye + Wax Print + Sweaters" I mentioned that I visited the Dutch Design Week twice and both times I went to the IGLUU.

Last week I saw different overviews on different blogs of this exhibition.* My overview of the exhibition is more a detailview. The moment a pattern comes to life starts long before a beautiful model shows it in an even more beautiful dress. It starts when the designer puts his pencil to paper.
That Vlisco now focus on this part of their heritage is a great treat for me. On Vlisco V-inspired you can read interviews with their designers and find an overview of the Unfolded exhibition.

When I went to the Vlisco exhibition in Arnhem last year I was intrigued by Johan Jacobs sketchbooks (see "Johan Jacobs sketchbooks". Now the exhibition was full with todays sketches. With little notes in the sidelines (see "Making notes"). From the early days they showed display cabinets full of books with samples of chintz, batiks and other parts of fabrics from 1850 till 1950.
I overheard people talking about the resemblances the designs shows with Batik. And that they don't really get it, they ask each other if the proces, the making of the fabric is similar as well.
These questions didn't really get answered. Vlisco history starts in 1846, but they start their story much later, when their history with West Africa starts. That's fine, but it makes the Dutch connection with Vlisco difficult. People here think, Ow exotic fabrics from/for Africa, but then they recognize these Indonesian patterns and learn that Vlisco is based in Helmond and they can't put it together.
For me the journey Vlisco made, from the Netherlands, to the Dutch Indies, ending on the Cold coast, is what makes it so special. All these cultures, this shared heritage in one fabric. For those who paid attention, this shared heritage was found everywhere in the exhibition, you just have to look a little closer.

* See

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