By Polly Ester, Wednesday 24 October 2018
There are those moments during fashion week where you find yourself gasping with an audible sigh, clutching your heart and most likely appearing like a fool to the fashionistas around you. Yesterday, on the opening day of SAFW AW|19, I had a few of those, proving once again that the South African Fashion Week platform is truly representative of the high standard of fashion talent in our country.
The first 3 of those ‘moments’ happened during the SAFW New Talent Search showcase, when young designers, Cindy Mfabe, Afrogrunge and Ode held the space. Launched in 1998, the SAFW New Talent Search has propelled young design talent such as Black Coffee, David Tlale, Anmari Honiball and recently, Mmusomaxwell, into South Africa’s fashion industry. Following an intensely detailed entry process, the 2018 competition presented the collections of 8 young designers. Set with exceptionally high standards and expectations, those that succeed are rewarded with the essentials for a successful start-up; including valuable publicity and the recently added support of Johannesburg-based The Fashion Agent. The Fashion Agent works with progressive stores and brands and is committed to growing strong partnerships between them. Read more here.
David West, 2018 Judge and Head of Design at Superbalist shared his opinion on the entrants, saying that “The standard was extremely high and we struggled with our final decision.” He added “In the end we selected the designer most ready to take their business to the next level of support with The Fashion Agent.” That’s what I most love about SAFW, it’s a platform focused on business success for designers operating in an industry so often erroneously considered whimsical and unprofitable.
Back to the beauty. Winner, Cindy Mfabe, owned the ramp with a range illustrating detailed and meticulous tailoring. High-necklines, collars and ruffles in strict linear shapes aerated with gentle volume with the models stride. In an unusual colour palette of black, with soft tones of baby blue, yellow and dusty pink, Cindy’s collection adeptly combined austere lines with a soft gathering of ruffles. David put it perfectly when he said “A technically challenging collection that artfully combined tailoring with soft draping and a clever use of colour blocking.”
The next moments were experienced during the Style BY SA show, sponsored by Woolworths as a celebration of our local talent and creativity. Strong collections reflecting global trends across cut, colour and cult were revealed by designers Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, Wanda Lephoto, The Watermelon Social Club and Mmusomaxwell. Rich Mnisi and Thebe Magugu, both ex-LISOF Students, stood out for their inventive and thought-provoking innovation.
Rich Mnisi is inspired by modern culture and heritage, using his designs to tell the story of the past, present and future. His latest range revealed layers of pop culture influence with his trademark contrast of minimalist lines with offbeat and eccentric detailing. A strong colour palette of bright solids combined with shapes in unexpected patterns, from checks, stripes to retro prints, presented a visual celebration of the issues debated across our current social landscape. This brand, just 4 years old, is resetting the boundaries and defining the new design aesthetic in the contemporary SA fashion scene.
Thebe Magugu remained true to his design signature, using fabrication, cut and colour to explore the inequality and incongruity between the feminine and the masculine. Thebe’s AW|19 collection revealed a new discovery of techniques such as pleating, disclosing details such as provocative brassiere outlines and accentuated waistlines. It will no doubt be fascinating to watch his involvement in the International Fashion Showcase, in partnership with the British Fashion Council in 2019.
Judging by yesterday, today is going to be a good day for fashion in SA!