070311: Museum für Völkerkunde African Lace – Austrian Fabrics for Nigeria

Museum für Völkerkunde African Lace – Austrian Fabrics for Nigeria 22.10.10 – 14.03.11 Before: Afterwards – and thereafter Last minute offer: fortunately the exhibition was prolonged until March 14 and more viewers are given the opportunity to discover an amazingly-fabulous-bizarre-picturesque chapter of fashion at the Völkerkundemuseum in Vienna. Since the early 1960’s embroidery from Vorarlberg has been exported to Nigeria and, known as „African Lace“, made fashion history. The exhibition intends to present the country from its best side – while in the past 50 years, since its independence from Great Britain, Nigeria usually only hit international headlines due to violent conflicts and famines. Before Magnificently embroidered, traditional robes – generously tailored shirts, worn loosely over the shoulder, and hand-woven fabrics with traditional patterns, form the first part of the exhibition. According to Yoruba-researcher Reverend Samuel Johnson's description dating back to the end of the 19th century "men wear robes, undershirts and wide trousers, called Sokoto. (…) while the women’s clothing is much simpler. It consists of two or three wraparounds and a headdress", In contrast, it is fascinating to see a woman’s costume from the Bregenzerwald. It seems a corollary that these embroidery styles crossed each other at some point…. Afterwards To this day, the traditional Nigerian cuts were retained, respectively new designs were made for plain, simple shirt and blouse forms – but the artfully patterned lace fabrics added a new flair. Fashion consciousness and a weakness for exotic fabrics (from Europe or India) has been attested to the Yoruba already from the beginnings of maritime trading in the 16th century; and by the end of the 19th century – following the colonisation in 1861 – high-ranking trendsetters adopted western style elements. Spectacular patterns on wax fashion fabrics and the first Swiss and Vorarlberg lace cloth found their way to West Africa. This “one-way” situation with the producers from Vorarlberg changed at the beginning of the 1970’s. From that day, the diverse floral and abstract patterns as well as the colour schemes were subtly adapted to fit the customers’ taste and, if need be, were jointly developed. It was therefore not unusual to repeatedly find a Mercedes star, a Rolls Royce logo, or that of other automobiles, ladies sandals, crowns or Tyrolean hats printed on the fabrics. The subtitle of the catalogue - African Lace. A history of trading, creativity and Nigerian fashion – deals with this topic in detail and documents the exhibition emphases: selected creations by the most renowned Nigerian fashion designers, high society’s fashionable ensembles and their overhanging head scarves “Gele”, Sascha Reichstein’s artistic film project and insights into the work processes of the manufacturing sites in Vorarlberg, and the “golden years” of the trade relations. And what will follow? It is unrealistic to think that the unlimited boom will continue: the Vorarlberg producers have come under severe price and demand pressure due to the financial crisis and the replicas, respectively the Chinese plagiarisms. Nevertheless, one relies on customer loyalty - after all, they do not want to miss out on the luxury of first class quality. By Aurelia Jurtschitsch Museum für Völkerkunde 1010 Vienna, Neue Burg Tel: +43 1 525 24 404 Fax: +43 1 525 24 371 email: info@ethno-museum.ac.at http://www.ethno-museum.ac.at Opening hours: Daily except Tuesdays 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Weltmuseum Wien
1010 Wien, Neue Burg
Tel: +43 1 534 30 – 5052
Email: info@weltmuseumwien.at
Öffnungszeiten: täglich außer Dienstag 10-18 Uhr

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