South African Fashion Week has come to an end. Besides being exhausted and drained of all possible topics for small talk, I am beyond proud to be in the South African Fashion industry. I have been attending Fashion weeks since 2015 (not long at all) and I have witnessed the growth in this blossoming field. This is because SAFW is giving young designers the platform that is needed to wow our industry and gain some undeniable knowledge. I remember attending fashion week when the main designers were outdated, hesitant to change, unaware of what was happening on the grassroots level and worst of all, full of cultural appropriation. So with that being said lets break down my favourite designers of this SAFW.
Everyone who attended first night will understand why this article is starting with Thebe Magugu and Rich Mnisi’s latest collection. The Wunderkinds of our industry. Their shows have become the highlight of fashion week. You had to be there to see the absolute chaos and crowd. There truly is nothing but praise for these two designers, especially Thebe Magugu. Magugu knocked it out the park this year. Living in a world that has suffered the consequences of patriarchy since time immemorial, Thebe is inspired by the women who played important roles in his life. His latest collection explores the disparity between masculinity and femininity, tradition and experiment with a worldly understanding of women’s bodies, wants and needs. Like I say at the end of all SAFW’s watch this designer become one of South Africa’s top exports.
As mentioned above, SAFW’s preoccupation with young designers is what made this season extra special. DUT ( Durban University of Technology) provided the audience with ‘sociably acceptable’ streetwear juxtaposed with Avant-garde fashion. From OTT to simply bizarre, these students had the freedom to go all out and they did. As the one designers garment said “We make mistakes”. This is what studying design is all about, making mistakes, working with them and coming out with something that you never thought of before. Durban, I’ve got my eye on you… Certainly the next frontier when it comes to fashion. Miss me with the pretence of Jozi and Cape Town, give me all the talented naiveté of Durban.
I cannot speak about young designers without congratulating MINI for delivering some of the best this week. MINI scouting menswear competition shone a spotlight on menswear designers, supporting emerging labels and helping them in their breakthrough into this competitive market. Special shoutout to Muzi Mabena who created my favourite collection and Sandile Mlambo who was the deserved winner, offering seamlessly designed, african inspired suits.
I’m sure most of you ( who have read my work) realise my absolute horror and morbid fascination with the styling at SAFW. I am proud to announce the styling this season was great (bar a couple of shockers). No ugly black heels anywhere ( besides a few designers that are too weak even to mention). Most of our designers are finally collaborating with shoe and accessory brands- taking their shows to the next level. Keep it up! Another issue I normally cry about is the models. Besides many of them having lost a little too much weight, our models slayed the runway this year.
This wouldn’t be a Big Bad Wolf article without a bit of ‘hating’ or what I like to call ‘Constructive criticism’. WTF happened to Sun Godess?! I will objectively state that their aesthetic has never been my favourite but, my god, their latest line reminded me of a high school students first take on fashion design. I didn’t even want to bring them up in this article but perhaps SAFW need to start letting designers such as this go. 4-5 years ago it was a little more acceptable as the industry was struggling to grow but this is just not good enough anymore.
Lets start with giving credit where credit is due, Gert Johan Coetzee’s work is impeccably made. There is no other designer that I have seen with the same craftsmanship such as his. So this year McDonalds collaborated with GJC. Yes, you read that right. To say it was an interesting collaboration would be the understatement of the decade. Sadly instead of bringing his own take on this collaboration it reminded me too much of the Moschino/McDonalds partnership. It was enjoyable to see GJC offer the audience more ready-to-wear pieces yet the collection did not flow. It went from bomber jackets and sequinned shorts to handkerchief dresses and ball gowns. It was a fun show especially with the appearance of SA IT girl Nomzamo Mbatha. Fashion does not need to always be so serious and that is exactly what GJC showed us this season.
Black Coffee, the show I looked forward to obviously did not disappoint. I guess my love for Black Coffee was ignited by last years winter collection. I was very interested to see what they would offer for Spring/Summer. As always, Jacques van der Watt brought the same perfect artistry as always. The pops of colour were unexpected and brought a youthfulness to another elegant line. Since last year most designers have been focused on the revival of the 70’s, Balck Coffee delivered some cheeky Warhol-esque 60’s designs. Original, sleek and styled to perfection.
All in all I would have to say this has been the best SAFW I have attended yet. There will always be kinks that need fixing but the future in this industry is bright and I cannot wait for our local talent to be hitting the runways worldwide. Watch this space… Find some of my delicious outfits for Fashion week below
All runway images thanks to Eunice Driver/Eunice Driver Photography