Saturday, April 27, 2013

#FashionWeeks: My SA Fashion Week Spring Summer 2013 Experience

It’s amazing how before it all happens you have a plan either set out in your mind or even on paper as to how you will dissect fashion week for your readers and allow them to consume each show and properly and get a full appreciation for the week and its experiences. The challenge with me, however, is that I tend to fail dismally as such set out expectations and usually fair better when I write as I please.

In keeping to true form I officially and finally present to you my South African Fashion Week (SAFW) experience(s). SAFW took place 11 – 13 April 2013 at the contemporary Crowne Plaza Hotel, Rosebank in Johannesburg. Upon arriving a day late for fashion week (FW) I share with you my two days of fashion, networking, intrigue and life through a special ‘Highlights Series’. At the end of these highlights, I’ve added a few links to other portals who have comprehensive image/video material on every single show. As I only relay my highlights, my post will only feature collections that made an impact on my trip.

SAFW Highlights

Friday 12 April 2013

Intercape Bus Charters
So after a dismal planning session, I was left with the ultimatum of either travelling to FW via bus or not going at all. After some major convincing, I bought a bus ticket and off I went. Travelling via Intercape was a rather comfortable experience. Apart from the long hours on the road, irregular stopping periods, smells of foreign foods in the cabin and the not working cell phone charger installed in the bus, the trip is relatively worthwhile if you’re in no rush. You get to experience the scenery that you would have otherwise not seen and you get the sense of how amazing an aeroplane really is considering the land the bus takes 18 hours to cross one plane does in approximately two hours. The even greater highlight about my trip to FW using the bus was the amazing discovery I made when arriving in Joburg Park Station – my luggage wasn’t packed in the bus as I was informed by the Intercape official back in Cape Town. So there I was on my first day in Johannesburg, for fashion week, with nothing to wear. The rest of this highlight will be forced into the history books and not revealed any further.

Albertus Swanepoel
Albertus Swanepoel revealed a highly anticipated and proudly South African surprise at SAFW’s Day 2 of activities, my day one of fashion. The internationally renowned milliner who practices under his namesake overseas, launched a well thought through luxury sportswear collection for women. In a palette of nudes, blacks and desert mochas, Albertus presented a collection that swiftly moved from day into night with a kind of ‘African safari’ feel about it. It illustrated for me what a rich nature conservationist’s wife would dress like whenever she visited the city. Cladded with gold, bronze natural fibre accessories and wearing very comfortable looking sandals with cotton straps in a thick-cut, the entire collection oozed a sense of laid-back ‘old-school money’ sports-leisurewear that only a specific kind of woman could pull off without breaking a sweat. Apart from the Protea flower emblem turned into a simplistic graphic embroidery, the silky ruched headpieces were great feminine details to complement the collection. I’m no womenswear commentator but this collection by Swanepoel was definitely worth viewing.

Cutterier by Laz Yani
Laz Yani and his Cutterier label formed part of the inaugural Lufthansa First Best Collections showcase which apart from stemming as a platform to allow young designers a space to showcase their creativity openly and without restrictions on being the most commercially viable, it was a competition finale of sorts where a winning label/designer would be flown to Berlin with their collection by Lufthansa. Cutterier did not win and the label that did win actually didn’t really deserve it in my opinion. Cutterier showcased not necessarily an amazing creative collection, however, the creative problem-solving solution behind the collection for me was a gem. We all hate packing and we all hate even more unpacking wrinkled clothes. Cutterier’s SS2013 collection presented women with a resort collection that could retain its original state through the innovative use of wrinkle-free fabrics. Dressed like a nomadic starlet, the Cutterier lady is relaxed and stylish all at once. It’s definitely an international collection that can be worn across seasons.

PASLEhomme Spring Summer 2013 by Paledi Segapo was inspired by a recent visit to India. Obvious pieces of evidence are the turban head wears adorned by the models in the installation. The gladiator sandal – a shoe I have been trying to revive for guys this coming spring summer – has been included in the collection and I was jumping up and down with joy. Possibly the best menswear collection showcased at SAFW (besides the Row-G show that I missed due to not being recognized as media by the brand’s in-house PR wheel) PALSEhomme put forth a combination of slim casual and formal silhouettes and refreshed them through the use of diagonal pleats on shirts, invisible waistbanded pant, tailored short suits and even a zip-up blazer. I absolutely favour the incorporation of the strips and polka dots. Men hardly get these patterns in their collections and it’s about time someone recognized their place in our wardrobes.

All I have to say about Hush is: “What happens in Hush stays in Hush”

Tiaan Nagel
They say women have to suffer for beauty when wearing stilettos and feeling uncomfortable after five minutes. Tiaan Nagel had to suffer a little too for his beauty of an installation at SAFW. After a minor accident while setting up, the designer was not going to take it lying down. Tiaan pulled through and so did his fabulous collection. There’s something exquisite about simple collections that focus on design, finishing and styling. Remember the movie The Fifth Element with Milla Jovovich? Well, image those garments with a touch of local couture. Reminiscent of Karoo landscapes in summer, the gold accessories add a kind of mirage effect to the entire collection. Strong geometric lines and solid classic cuts leave this very tailored collection in a strong position as probably the winning women’s collection for SAFW.

Ephymol’s collection for SS 2013 only makes it as a highlight due to (1) the popping lime vest in a very geometric shape that was coupled with a navy(?) pair of tailored shorts, and (2) for the introduction of his new ‘print’ for the season. A combination of graphic patterns and repeated iconography left me smiling amongst the internal disappointment with the collection overall. The women pieces introduced were strong but I personally believe one should always focus their strengths where they are best showcased. If that’s menswear, then possibly one should just stick to that… I do believe Ephymol most likely made his die-hard fans proud. The collection was everything expected of the label and with a great piece here and there possibly stepped it up a levely (ever so slightly) for its fans.

Special Thank You
A special thank you needs to be made mention to the personalities who partnered with me to ensure I made it to SAFW, looked the part, had a great time, networked and made it back safely to Cape Town thereafter.

Travel Partner
Intercape Bus Charters

Accommodation Partner
Andile Bhenya & Songezo Gxalaba

Cab Services (In Johannesburg)
Truth Luxury Cab Services

CLOCHE SA by Chanellé Vlok




And to everyone I met along the way, thank you! Am looking forward to working with new partners, and current partners, on my future adventures at other fashion weeks.


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