Textile Art – Fashion Design project 2017
Zaïre ,as the former name of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a project exploring the Congolese traditional heritage to infuse designs of contemporary attire.
The traditional Congolese sophistication (body art, clothes , hairstyle) encountered by the anthropologists who depicted the tribes living within the boundaries of the “Congo-Belge”. Their expression of beauty, manifeste the diversity and the taste of precolonial central Africa civilizations.
Sadly, destructed slowly by rules under the colonization and following modernization, the cultural void had allowed to the westernization of the thoughts and customs : a cultural chaos.
From the 70’s , the authenticity campaign brought in its new philosophy defining new rules in the Zairean society. Thus “moving back to Authenticity “ to create a new sense of national identity was the forefront of the President Mobutu’s motto .
Among the change , in fashion was the adoption of the Mao Vest. The Zairean garment designs from that Chinese attire , was the distinctive way to recognize a Men in Zaïre, thus the position against the colonial. Called “ abacost” Meaning “ abat le costume “ referring to “ refuse the suit “ , Zairean was called to refuse any identification to Belgian identity.
Women in the other side were obliged to wear three pieces of loincloth, made of wax print fabrics copying the famous Dutch wax print which got a large popularity : a new style had flourished then .
By the 1990s, the political change brought back western style garments but the wax print, have been since used to promote the Congolese cultural identify.
This statement can be questioned as soon as the wax print designs is involving a mixture of motifs copying Dutch and Asian inspired motifs for the most.
For this project , designing from the legacy of the past for the present was the main goal. Thus , exploring the cross-cultural environment that globalization imposes is considered as an opportunity .
Trying to use of textile craft dyeing with new printing technology , mixing differents cultural elements . From the materials itself to the object through the expression, new expression combines individuality and social appartenance.
To the women attire pictures exploited for the “bijin” textile project were added men attire illustrations to constitute the visuals from which new inspirations came from. Taking into account the pre and post colonization eras in DRCongo and their influences in style and fashion.
Natural fabric and synthetic fabric were used too. Applying paste resist dyeing techniques with natural dyes for the natural fiber and inkjet printing plus metallic foiling for the synthetic one.
The over all dark hue of the garments expresses the state of the Congolese society which still looking to break free from its cultural yoke, retrieving its own identity (red) in the actual path to modernization (silver). The black hue of the cotton fabric was obtained from extracts of Logwood chips mordanted with iron.
Motifs from the “bijin” and “ndura” projects were used .
“Bijin” motifs were applied to cotton fabric by rice paste resist dyeing techniques.Motifs from “Ndura” exploited by metallic foiling .
Added was Japanese motif inspired by “maiko comb” and “ kanoko dots” . They were printed by Inkjet printing techniques on the polyester fabric .
The garments was composed of layers of natural and synthetic fabrics as the layers of loincloth worn by Congolese , expressing the overlapping of past and present in the quest of authenticity , by appropriation reinterpretation and innovation .
Techniques : Inkjet printing, Brush-dyeing (Hikizome), Rice paste Resit Dyeing(Katazome), metallic foiling, flat drawing patterns, sewing.
Materials : Polyester fabric, Cotton fabric, Feathers, Logwood, natural beads (accessories).