Delicate Shades of Africa

Delicate Shades of Africa

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Sabine Pieper usually works in one dimension. The German photographer and illustrator has drawn for many fashion collections, most recently featured in Elle UK. In her latest commission from fabric atelier Vlisco, her work has turned 3-dimensional and animated (see video above).

Walk through any west or central African city, and you will notice the advertisements for Vlisco's haute couture wax prints. Since the mid-1800s, the Dutch company Vlisco has been producing some of the highest quality wax prints for Africa's well-to-do women, with boutiques in central and west Africa. The newest fabrics run from about $80 for 6 yards and the line of inspired handbags start around $500.

This year Vlisco turned to Sabine when looking for a new format through which to convey a new printing technique in their "Delicate Shades" line of fabrics. "Delicate Shades" feature a new printing technique that adds texture and the ability for a front and back to each fabric. When viewed from right or left, the fabric takes on different hues, and the front and back of some patterns feature different colors. The new printing style promotes new ways to wear fabrics.


Sabine's drawings explore some of the new colors in Vlisco's line. The details in the drawings mimic some of the blues and unique earth tones in the "Delicate Shades" that have been collaged in the images. The drawings of African women come alive with the 3-dimensional fabrics. Sabine has imagined haute couture African women through the seriously fun Vlisco patterns.

Sabine Pieper keeps a blog of her work online. If you want to create your own fashion from "Delicate Shades," the Vlisco fabrics and fashion accessories can be viewed on their online webstore, at select retailers, or in their stores in Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Nigeria, or Democratic Republic of Congo.