Vlisco launches City of Joy fabric collection

Vlisco, a Dutch printer of wax fabrics, has teamed up with five
designers including British-Nigerian fashion designer Tolu Coker to
showcase a collection of fabrics designed to honour and raise funds for the
women of the City of Joy, a transformational leadership community for
women, who are survivors of brutal rape and mutilation by soldiers and
civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Launching on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence
Against Women, November 25, the new collection of fabrics tells the story
of the women of City of Joy, who have made the journey from suffering to a
place of love and hope, with each fabric marked by the words ‘Love’,
‘Respect’ and ‘Strength’ to reflect the healing and renewal through
sisterhood, love and mutual respect of the community.

Vlisco launches City of Joy fabric collection

The collection is made up of five printed super-wax fabric patterns in
bold, bright patterns, with approximately 100 different, vivid colours,
created using the old techniques of wax printing. Each fabric design pays
tribute to the female form and the natural beauty of the Congo region, and
all the profits from the sale of the collection will be donated by Vlisco
to the City of Joy.

Gabriela Sanchez, the Vlisco designer behind the collection, said in a
statement: “The first thought that came to mind when I met the women of the
City of Joy was ‘Is there anyone stronger than you?’ The collection aims to
capture their journey from the darkest of places to a place of hope and

“It also portrays the great strength that comes from sisterhood. The
designs suggest the beauty of the vagina and the respect it deserves, and
they depict the forests and rivers and wildlife of the Eastern Congo – a
place of fear but also joy.”

Vlisco launches City of Joy fabric collection

Vlisco celebrates the “world’s strongest women” with a wax fabric
collection dedicated to City of Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The five fabrics each represent a different story inspired by the City
of Joy: ‘Sisterhood’ showcases intertwined flowers to highlight the bond
shared by the women; the base of The Orchid’ fabric represents the waves of
turmoil experienced by the women, moving upwards, the striking orchid in
full bloom showcases the beauty of the vagina; the ‘Bouquet’ depicts the
vagina in a beautiful but stark way using florals; ‘The Congo River’
represents the Congo’s bountiful, lush and green landscape; and ‘The Congo’
features a lion sitting on his perch representing Nobel Peace Prize winner
Dr Mukwege, the surgeon who, with his team of doctors, has physically
healed the women.

Christine Schuler Deschryver, co-founder and director of City of Joy,
added: “Taking part in this process has been a very positive experience for
the women involved. They have been the driving force in the project and
that is reflected in the vivacity and colour of the fabrics and the
originality of the designs. It’s vital that the world’s eyes are opened to
the atrocities that are taking place here and it’s beyond inspiring that
the women who have suffered most are those brave enough to take a stand

Vlisco launches City of Joy fabric collection

To showcase the bold fabric, Vlisco has teamed up with five African
female designers including former Fashion Scout Merit Award winner Tolu
Coker, Aisha Ayensu founder and creative director of Christie Brown,
recognised as a key player in the rise of contemporary African fashion,
Bubu Ogisi creative director of contemporary womenswear brand Iamisigo,
Ivory Coast-born Rebeccas Zoro from ready-to-wear brand Yhebe, and Nigerian
Abiola Adeniran-Olusola who launched her eponymous fashion brand in 2017
after her studies in Paris.

Each of the designers worked with 15 graduates of the City of Joy to
create the empowering and personalised garments using the new fabrics.

Vlisco teams up with African designers Tolu Coker, Aisha Ayensu,
Bubu Ogisi, Rebeccas Zoro and Abiola Adeniran-Olusola to launch City of Joy
fabric collection

Vlisco launches City of Joy fabric collection

Eve Ensler, co-founder of City of Joy, added: “We are so thrilled by
this amazing project of Vlisco in collaboration with the amazing women at
City of Joy. It’s a project about healing, colour, life force and a
celebration of women’s bodies. It highlights the profound beauty of
Congolese women who embody the rising energy of the new world. We thank
Vlisco for their stunning fabrics and style but mainly for joining their
creativity with the struggle to free the women of Congo from violence, so
they can shine in their true beauty and power.”

The collection will be showcased to a global audience by the women of
the City of Joy at a gala event in Kinshasa on November 25. With sexual
violence a defining feature of the civil war in the eastern part of the
country, the event aims to put an international spotlight on the issue, as
currently more than 150 victims of sexual violence are admitted each month
to Panzi Hospital in Bukavu and over 55,000 women and children have been
treated there since 1999.

The City of Joy fabrics are available directly through Vlisco’s website
as well as through key distributors in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Europe and Benin/Togo. For every yard of fabrics sold, Vlisco will donate 2
euros to the City of Joy, which provides a place for women to heal
themselves from their past trauma through therapy and life skills
programming, while giving them essential support needed to help them move
forward in life. Since opening, 1,294 women have graduated from the City of

Vlisco launches City of Joy fabric collection

Images: courtesy of City of Joy by Atong Atem for Vlisco


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