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.
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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.