|Fashion Week ends in fireworks|
|21 February 2011|
JOBURG Fashion Week ended off with a bang when designer David Tlale paid tribute to former president Nelson Mandela on the landmark Nelson Mandela Bridge.
The designer used 92 models, among them celebrities and sportsmen, to mark the age of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Making a grand entrance, Tlale rolled in on a Harley Davidson motorbike, followed by his models who walked on to the bridge, black robes covering their outfits. The audience, strategically placed along the bridge, watched as the landmark came alive with colour and couture. Even Mother Nature came to the party as the weather cleared up ahead of the show.
Tlale's collection was inspired by Madiba, and each model represented a year in the life of the icon. They included the likes of Sonia and Matthew Booth, Gerry Rantseli-Elsdon, Michelle Botes, Jen Sue, Noni Gasa, Azania Ndoro, Tatum Keshwar and Roland Schoeman, who walked the 284m open air runway on 19 February as fashion week drew to a close.
Tlale's autumn-winter collection boasted everything from his take on suites to elegantly tailored evening dresses. And after the last model strutted off the runway, a kaleidoscope of fireworks lit up the sky to mark the end of Joburg Fashion Week.
It had begun with Fastrack, a day set aside for graduates of several design schools to show their collections, on 15 February at the Fashion Kapitol. A handful of up-and-coming young designers showed their collections, which were inspired by the city and what is fashionable and in demand. There was also entertainment, care of deejays and dancers.
Students from Lisof, Tshwane University of Technology, Spero Villioti Elite Design Academy, University of Johannesburg and SewAfrica, among others, participated. Fastrack also helped young designers learn more about the fashion industry.
It was followed with collections by designers that were shown at a number of landmark inner city venues. They included Suzaan Heyns, Errol Arendz, Klûk CGDT, LISP, Wild Fig, Spero Villiotti, Abigail Betz, Karabo Finger, Distinctive Wear, Avant, Grapevine, Bongiwe Walaza, Stiaan Louw, Thula Sindi, Abigail Keats, Tart, Loin Cloth and Ashes, and Heni.
For the first time, prominent buildings were turned into fashion ramps for the shows. The gorgeous Johannesburg Art Gallery was one of them, as were the spacious and airy Bus Factory in Newtown, and the historic Rand Club, built in 1887.
The event organisers, African Fashion International, approached the Johannesburg Development Agency and the Johannesburg Tourism Company to co-sponsor the fashion week and help in getting special permission to use Mandela Bridge.
"The event not only attracts some of the biggest names in the global fashion industry, but also opens the window of the world to our city through international media teams covering this event," said the City manager, Mavela Dlamini.
The City's events director, Bongi Mokaba, added: "This is a great opportunity to show the beauty and diversity of Johannesburg to a wide and diverse audience and also make Johannesburg proud to assist the event organisers in celebrating the life and achievements of former president Nelson Mandela."
Joburg had a strong reputation for and track record in hosting major local and international events free of incidents. "This will further enhance the city's reputation as a host of quality international events and a magnet for creativity, talent and new ideas."
The City's support for the creative industries was confirmed by its plans to revive a dedicated Fashion District in the eastern part of CBD and set up Joburg as a truly African fashion mecca.
Mokaba said the City was also encouraged by the way in which the collections of up-and-coming designers were brought into the fashion mainstream together with the work of some of the bigger names in the industry.
The Fashion District, along the eastern border of the inner city, has been revived as part of the inner city regeneration through the Johannesburg Development Agency. The Fashion Kapitol is the heart of the district, and it was officially opened on the first day of fashion week, during Fastrack.
"We see this week as an investment in young talent who will, hopefully, make their mark in the future and confirm Johannesburg's reputation as an incubator of creativity," Mokaba added.
Local media were joined in covering the shows by an international media contingent that included Vanity Fair, French and Italian Vogue, BBC, CNN, Forbes and French Elle, to name a few.
In a media statement, the City noted that, through this fashion week, it was able to showcase its flexibility in allowing multiple uses of its existing facilities and open spaces, promoting Joburg as a business and events destination and emphasising the creative minds in the broader arts industry. It also showed off Joburg as a brand to the world, thus contributing to the money that was gained through both local and international media coverage of the event.
This event also had an economic spin off in that jobs, even temporary ones, were created to the benefit of the locals, said the City.
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