From Java to Africa, via your inner compass
The fabric we chose for our Fire Compass Dress combines the rich cultural heritage of West Africa with deep symbolic overtones from world mythology.
Like most of the fabrics in the Maakola collection, Angelina was made by Vlisco, a traditional manufacturer of luxurious Wax Hollandais fabrics, with respect to traditional and time-honoured methods. This particular print is part of Vlisco’s Java range, which features interpretations of intricate, ancient Indonesian Batik designs. With its dramatic central motif — which to our eyes, resembles the needle of a compass — we couldn’t resist building a show stopping dress around this special print.
This fabric has many globally recognised names. Perhaps the most literal is the name “dashiki”, which originated in Ghana and is derived from the words “danshiki” or “dan ciki”, meaning “shirt” in West African languages.
But the fabric has music in it too. It was introduced to the market in the 70s, in the same year that the song “Angelina”, by Ghanaian band Sweet Talks, was released. The pattern became unexpectedly associated with the song, and has gone by the name Angelina ever since. More recently, the same fabric was associated with another song: “Mascara (Ya Mado)” by Congolese singer Fabregas. In the 2014 music video, you can see dancers wearing shirts in the so-called Ya Mado print in various color combinations.
This pattern is connected to one more prominent music figure: the late singer and activist Miriam Makeba, who was an important advocate for civil rights and black feminism. She wore many African prints in her lifetime, and was often seen in this one.
THE MAAKOLA MEANING
The Fire Compass
Angelina is a perfect example of how African Print fabrics lived a life of their own in African culture. It has been made in many different colour combinations, but for our Fire Compass Dress, we decided to work with the strong colour union of deep green and red. Both these colors carry a strong meaning, and, combined with the symbol of the compass, they convey a powerful message.
At Maakola, we see the bold shape at the center of this fabric as the needle of a compass: a symbol of every woman’s strong sense of intuition. The compass represents a woman’s natural strength, allowing her to make everyday choices and strong decisions from a place of wisdom.
With this print, we want to help women to connect with their inner compasses. We hope that when you wear Angelina, you’ll feel passionate in your life and work, and empowered to tap into your female intuition to make important decisions.
How we work with the Angelina fabric
Angelina is a guaranteed Java print on high-quality satin cotton, which feels smooth to the touch and has a natural sheen. With a weight of 120 gr/m, this Java fabric is perfect for dresses, shirts and the like, as it is printed on one side only, making it lighter than other types of Wax Print fabric. It’s just as easy to care for, however: Simply hand wash it in warm water as necessary.
We designed the Fire Compass Dress to bring out the whole beauty of the Angelina fabric. In this sleek, form-fitting maxi dress, the drama is all in the print, with the fire compass sitting right in the middle of the wearer’s body to create a strong focal point with a deep message.