By Thobile Mazibuko
Thursday opening night of South African Fashion Week (SA Fashion Week) Twenty Twenty Digital Collections, which was the first virtual showcase, was unique and organised.
Even the way the models strutted their stuff on the ramp, which was set up in the parking lot of Mall of Africa, you could see that they were at ease.
Gert-Johan Coetzee was the first to exhibit his latest work titled “Kraal Couture”, a collection inspired by the farms.
With blue and black being the dominant colours, the collection consists of beaded cowl skirts, smart pants with cow prints, a peplum tulle skirt, and ball gowns, some made of plastic.
Under the Diamond Fibre Collections, Mmuso Maxwell, Judith Atelier and Lukhanyo Mdingi brought nostalgia to the runway.
Maxwell presented their “Imbokodo” collection, a range that seeks to challenge the narrative of a woman’s place in society, especially in the African culture.
Some of our favourite pieces from the collection include the forest green side pleat jacket, the asymmetrical olive wrap jacket and matching pants, wool-side mustard pleat dress and the spiral knitted dress made of kid mohair.
Atelier introduced the brand to the luxurious world of mohair, which plays a big part in this collection.
Titled “ I am because we are”, the range includes appliqué skirts and dresses, with red and blue being the dominant colours and sometimes fused to create purple pieces.
In collaboration with Ginger Maggie, they also presented their SS21 jewellery collection using fine details such as macrame tassels, copper rings, polymer clay and copper rods that have been combined to create a unique new range.
Lukhanyo Mdingi presented a monochrome collection, rich in brown. His statement pieces include a sleeveless bike jacket made of felted kid mohair and pure merino wool blend gilet. Titled “Relic”, the collection is an extension from his previous works.
“The collection is an extension from what we’ve created in the past. The true provenance of what we do is that we’re always looking at the essentials and we’re always looking at our archives and that stems from really trying to execute what good design means to us because that’s what inspired us,” said Mdingi.
The Research Unit followed with their “Transformative” collection. As a brand that usually focuses on handbags, they collaborated with handweavers and the beaders from Kids Positive to push boundaries.
About the collection that had lots of coding, Erin-Lee Peterson, the founder of the brand, said: “We tried to push the boundaries as much as we could. Not just make it look African or beaded, or weaved, but we created shorts out of the handwoven scarf. We took our beadwork and created morse-code out of it. The smiley face on one of the tops was made through thinking about African masks, such as the one that has the six eyes”.
The range also included micro sling bags, travelling bags, as well as beach bags.
Paying homage to the Indian culture, Etka Kalan of Ekta played with colour and geometric shapes to create unique patterns.
On the inspiration behind the collection, she said: “My latest collection is called ‘Who am I’? It’s an exploration of identity and how we see ourselves. If you look at each person, their environments, their family life, their ethnicity, as well as the country where they live in, all plays a specific role in how they see themselves.
“I looked at my life and upbringing, taking being a South African Indian, loving being South African, but also deep-rooted into Indian culture. My collection looks at formlessness, as well as form. I took a sari, which is 5 metres of fabric, once wrapped into the wearer, takes shape and a form. Then taking this complete structured shirt and structured clothes such as a shirt and trousers, which is a complete western concept and fusing the two cultures to create a new collection and a new form.”
Closing the show was Helon Melon with a subtle, collection of white dresses. Titled “All Dressed Down and Everywhere To Go”, she had the lockdown in mind when creating the collection. To add some colour, she defined it with neon stitches and some art inspiration from Mary Sibande.
When asked why she called in “All Dressed Down and Everwhere To Go”, Melon said: “During the lockdown, we all dressed down. And the most exciting thing is that it is a dress downrange, but you can dress it up however you like. There are lots of whites, I’ve done everything in white cotton and added a few accent colours to the range. Lots of dresses, I’ve done a very chick cashmere suit, and I had to put it in because of what we’ve been through. It’s comfortable with South African influences in it, from the house that I saw in the Transkei over 20 years ago to our fabulous SA artists like your Mary Sibande.”
South African Fashion Week will be showcasing until October 24. Visit www.safashionweek.co.za for more information