Pattern Pulp

Custom Dressmaking with Ashley Galloway

Meet Ashley Galloway. She’s both a friend and a source of creative inspiration. She currently lives in London and walked me through the Power of Making exhibition at the V&A a few weeks ago while I was in town visiting. With a background in photography spanning the magazine publishing and art worlds, her eye for curation is impeccable. On a recent family trip to Cape Town, she put her fashion sense to work pairing up with a local tailor to design custom clothing using African textiles. Here’s her personal account, I love the idea.

*            *            *

I have a love for textiles and through my travels I’ve collected many unique pieces.  In 2004 I was in Cape Town, South Africa and had a custom embroidered muumuu created at the Pan African Market.  When I returned this fall I went to the same clothier and created the two-piece, skirt and blouse from his range of fabrics.  I mixed and matched the fabrics to get the right combination.  For the outfit on the left, I chose two fabrics that had similar sized patterns, the same pallet of oranges and blues, and also complimentary flow in the patterns with a lot of vertical movement.

The outfit on the right is a faux polka dot pattern made of images of Guinea fowl, which are native to Africa (I had an encounter with some in a garden earlier that day).  I like using similar colors and mixing patterns to get the ‘it’s so wrong it’s right’ feel  – it’s bold but not over-the-top.

The dressmaker took my measurements and I described my vision of a high wasted pencil skirt to the knee and a simple, fitted blouse.  Further down Long Street I found the Mali Custom South African Designed Couture and was mesmerized by their fabric samples.  I bought several pieces of fabric for my collection and chose the fabric for the dress pictured in the middle.  I spoke to the tailor and described the design that I thought suited the fabric’s pattern – a halter dress, highlighting the paneled shapes of the pattern at the neckline, with a sash to accentuate the natural waistline created by the three sections of the fabric’s pattern.  He was as excited as I was about my new clothes!

Though I drew influence from the recent season’s trends of mixing textures and patterns and Burberry Prorsum’s Spring ’12 Collection, I have always been inspired by the vibrant textiles of Africa and I thought these bold patterns, made into modern silhouettes, would suit my life when I returned home.


Tracking Repetitive + Awesome.
On Instagram.