One of the key elements in Christian Dior’s Marrakech cruise show was the innovative use of wax printed fabrics in the collection. Dior’s designer Maria Grazia Chiuri first got the idea after reading Wax & Co, a brilliant history of the material written by Anne Grosfilley. And today, Best Design Books is going to show you everything:
A doctor of anthropology, Grosfilley is a specialist in African textiles and fashions and a noted curator. Grosfilley has published, among other works, African Wax Print Textiles (Edisud, 2004), Textiles d’Afrique, entre tradition et modernité (Point de vues, 2006), L’abécédaire du wax (Grandir, 2015), and Wax, 500 tissus (La Martinière, 2019), due out later this month.
Grosfilley offers the fruits of her own passionate research as she profiles a variety of individuals from rural venders to trendsetting fashionistas. This eye-opening study celebrates the enormous variety of African fabric styles and uses, and explores the complex interconnections between the continent and colonialism and between modern technology and Old World practices.
Thanks to Grosfilley, Chiuri was able to connect with authentic wax printers in Africa. The pair traveled together to Abidjan, on the Ivory Coast, where the French author introduced the Italian designer to Jean-Louis Menudier and Uniwax, the only company that does wax printing with the traditional methods and using local African cotton.
Grosfilley’s work underlines the language of patterns in wax printing. Thanks to her, Dior was able to take its classical fabrics like toile de Jouy into a new dimension. Models donned flowing maroon gowns and beaded dresses with patterned prints and bandanas as they glided down the catwalk surrounded by guests on Moroccan cushions.
The event, hosted outside the usual fashion week calendar, took place in the Arabic city’s 16th century El Badi Palace. Setting the scene for a night to remember, the stunning outdoor runway was surrounded by lush gardens and pools adorned with hundreds of floating tealights.
“This collection is not about an idea of an ‘African look’. It’s a celebration of African savoir-faire, and it will be a part of a real African economy.” – Anne Grosfilley
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