South African Fashion Week - My Opinion!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I can't access the proper pics from this weekend's SA Fashion Week, but as soon as I do, I will post them. Chris Saunders, who was collaborating with Elle Magazine took a few more backstage pics from some of the shows. How amazing are these Smarteez pics? It was their very first show and I'm devastated that I missed it because I was horizontal nursing a migrane, nausea and just general exhaustion. My boys have come such a long way and I think what will ensure their success is that their stuff is precisely not everybody's pick. 




cool hangs with cool. i love how these guys have stuck to their "love me or leave me" aesthetic. why am i wring like ee cummings?

I also shamefully (for the first time in four years) missed the Clive Rundle show. I love his work because it forces you to not think as you would in other presentations of art. I've tried so hard to "get" Clive's work, but what gets me about it, is precisely that the story is so convoluted in his deliciously cooked expression - it ain't meant to be got! Well at least, that's how I've always seen it and that's why I adore.






  
Clive Rundle S/S 2011.


I enjoyed this season's shows at an incredible venue, Shine Studio's in Braamfontein. I arrived there on Friday afternoon as a buyer (yes I've managed to be on the Buyers and Media list this year) and was totally blown away by the young designers. I met the beautiful Ntokozo, whose label Mabu, debuted at the proper shows, this after she was a finalist at the Elle New Talent Competition last year.  She didn't win last year because her range, as much as there were some really great elements about it, was a little all over the place, inconsistent and generally, quite juvinile.  So when I saw her this year, I knew to expect some good ideas, but I was even more surprised at how much her stuff has improved in terms of design, quality and retail value - you can sell the stuff off her rails and I plan to at Mememe Joburg later this year. I don't have pics though (as I said, I will post later).  I also met a cool duo who have a label called Sdwedwear - it's very streety, which is not Mememe's cup of tea but there were some beautiful dresses and skirts that will hopefully make it to our shop rails. 

As I was leaving the buyer's session, after some sartorial pleasantries with Christopher Strong, Silverspoon and Joel Janse van Vuuren, I walked past the most beautiful jersey's I've ever seen in my life. I stopped, did a 360 around the room and screamed "Who is responsible for these jerseys?" At that point, a tall, dark figure came towards me and humbly proclaimed "This is my stand".  I had to take a few moments to gather myself because of how I was feeling. You know when you're about to cry and your tears well up in your eyes as if there are pieces of glass covering your eyeballs? And all you have to do to prevent them from breaking out of your eyes and onto your face is to pull them back towards your bottom lids? That's exactly what I did. I've been searching for a really good, really good, really humble and unaffected black designer - and what better person exemplifies such a yearning than the young Laduma Ngoxolo? I also think I was overly emotional because he is, like me, Xhosa and has references of his culture all over his clothes - but it's not literal.  He makes the most beautiful [Colour Blocking meets Alpine meets Dr Huxtable sweaters meets traditional Xhosa attire] jerseys from cashmere, mohair and wool! 

I'm certainly not the first to discover this guy, Capetonians and other visitors got to see him at this year's Design Indaba and were equally blown away, so blown away in fact that he is set to export to Milan, Paris and London, and in fact his stuff is being exhibited at a Design Show in Milan thaaaday! Are you joking? He is still a student at Nelson Mandela Metropole University in Port Elizabeth of all places. Jaaaaysus! I've now joined the queue of people waiting to stock his stuff (his will be the only boys clothes I will stock at Mememe Joburg inshala).  The pictures don't do his work enough justice - touching and smelling these gems is very special and so is he.  He is actually a textile designer (you don't meet one of those on any old day) who specialises in natural fabrics - I mean, I flipped when he said "I struggle to find the right yarn". Yarn. I don't think I've actually ever heard a black man say such a commonplace word and make it sound like whip cream! It was an honour to meet you man if you're reading this! 



 As for the actual fashion shows at SA Fashion Week - my absolute favourite shows if I had to choose three were Ephymol, Lunar, Black Coffee! These three designers always manage to stick to their guns yet always improve on their last collections. Well done guys! I knew I wasn't going to be crazy for collections from designers like Uyanda Mbuli, Gert Johan Coetzee or RJKay but I figure, why hate if these guys have more fans and customers in their shiny pockets than most "good" designers? I never used to understand why SA Fashion Week insisted on having a platform for these kinds of shows, but it only dawned on me now that they really are about "The Business of Fashion". Judging by the number of friends and fans that always holler and cheer when the worst outfits come on at these kind of shows, you gotta wonder whose laughing last at the end of the day. Me the intellectual snob who will go back and write about it on my unpaying blog or Reggie and Gert who probably have order lists as long as the fishtails on their dresses? There is a place for every single kind of person in this world and I commend those who choose to allow for that.  

One thing that wasn't cool about that night though was sitting across from Abigail Betz who was saying some deeply inappropriate and tactless things on Twitter about the shows and SA Fashion Week. For someone whose brand exudes class and sophistication, her attitude and tweets were an #epicfail and reeked of the dustbins that are collecting all over Joburg as a result of the garbage collectors' stayaway.

9 comments:

miss bergie said...

I am so disappointed at the line "Nelson Mandela Metropole University in Port Elizabeth of all places" - seriously, "of all places"? PE is a quiet little city that, below the surface, is trembling with raw, original talent and the people this talent is packaged in are down-to-earth, honest and ridiculously hardworking (eg. Silver Spoon (who you know), and check out http://slicedbreadstudio.blogspot.com, need I mention that Vovo Telo started in Richmond Hill). Furthermore, its the Arts Faculty's mythical imagination-beasts at NMMU that push these creative people to constantly think more, try harder and embrace their unique place in South Africa and the world.
With a barely functional municipality and severe lack of resources and funding, it's hard enough to gain recognition and respect if one's from Port Elizabeth. Mili, as much as I respect you and your work, to have one of the only real champions of SA fashion and design pull their nose up at NMMU/PE breaks my heart.

Maque DeGorgeous said...

My sentiments to a Tee regarding: "Me the intellectual snob who will go back and write about it on my unpaying blog or Reggie and Gert who probably have order lists as long as the fishtails on their dresses"

They use what they know and made it work. Their business models are not the same as most designers' and perhaps these need to be explored more if good designers hope to make it on a larger scale.

Milisuthando Bongela said...

Miss Bergie

Perhaps you really misunderstood what I'm trying to say about PE and small towns. I'm not from Johannesburg, I'm from East London - which is smaller than PE and I'm marvelling at the fact that such talent can come from unexpected places. I was actually with people from PE on Saturday night who are creative and say that there are very few people they can hang out with who are on their same creative wavelength. I was in NO way dissing small towns and certainly not PE where I have talented friends and family. You don't need to tell me about the businesses that operate from there, I know and use them all the time. I think you really took this the wrong way, perhaps read it again and if you still feel the same, then we can agree to disagree about this one.

miss bergie said...

Hi Mili

I probably have misunderstood to an extent, I apologise for that, and I admit I am a touch sensitive on this issue - especially since I'm (trying to be) a designer myself.
Thing is, I really don't perceive the Eastern Cape as an "unexpected place" for beautiful design to be born in. It just kills me that there is such a stigma attached to the province, ruining chances for interest and time to be invested here.
Eish. I guess that's just life.

silenthouse said...

Please find below the link to the Official Abigail Betz Response & Press Release regarding the comments made above:

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=1975426509055

Do take note that it is the only Official Response in existence.

For further information/commentary, contact Christian Lee - Head of Publicity & Creative Direction for Abigail Betz - at christian@abigailbetz.co.za

Regards,
The Abigail Betz House of Couture

Vuyo said...

Mili my sister, it is Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, not Metropole. I wouldn't be doing my job as NMMU's Senior Brand Manager if didn't correct you.
Laduma is awesome, I just watched him graduate his BTech, Cum Laude, he is an NMMU brand ambassodor for sure. Miss Bergie, I know how you feel and unfortunately the Eastern Cape stigma comes from years ago and will still be there, the only way we can eradicate it is by letting the Laduma's and Stephanie's be in the public eye and let their work change the perception. I work at NMMU and our MAD (Music Art & Design) school is tops in SA... We are buiding a brand baby...we are building a brand!

Bev Erickson said...

Laduma and NMMU rock! I agree with Vuyokazi - we are doing great things at NMMU and in the Eastern Cape. Halala...

Laduma said...

Thank you for the endorsement guys, we are trying by all means to make sure Port Elizabeth designers not only make a huge impact in the South African fashion industry, we are also trying to change the way people look at the Eastern Cape craft and arts in general.

Thenji said...

[I never used to understand why SA Fashion Week insisted on having a platform for these kinds of shows, but it only dawned on me now that they really are about "The Business of Fashion". Judging by the number of friends and fans that always holler and cheer when the worst outfits come on at these kind of shows, you gotta wonder whose laughing last at the end of the day. Me the intellectual snob who will go back and write about it on my unpaying blog or Reggie and Gert who probably have order lists as long as the fishtails on their dresses? There is a place for every single kind of person in this world and I commend those who choose to allow for that. ]...I can only second this. Its on point and a precise dissection of the current ways of the world.

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