BOLD colour, sparkles of bling and glitter, haute couture artistically mashed up with ready-to-wear pieces, all pulled off with hints of young funk – these were the outfits that filled the Fashion Kapitol as eager young fashionistas gathered downtown on the first day of the much-anticipated Joburg Fashion Week.
Dressed to the nines in their fun and funk individual way, the hip young audience mixed up their fresh fashion ideas on 15 February, and ecstatically danced and cheered to the deejays.
The ramp was resplendent in bold colours and subtle hints of greys, reds, purples, greens and blues as graduate students showed their chic, ready-to-wear collections in the Fastrack segment of the week.
Controversial socialite Khanyi Mbau was on the runway along with DJ Sbu, who showed off his new label, Vandal, among others.
Foschini, a sponsor of the show, had a visual display that illustrated its new educational programme, I Am Me, through the “The Journey of the Dress”. It is aimed at students with a design background who want to work for the Foschini group. Through it, they get an understanding of each department, including each process involved in creating a garment.
It begins with inspiration, then moves to trends; gets taken to the catwalks, then goes back to the office for design, sampling and quality testing. It is signed off and buying is done – allowing it to be distributed, and then the finished garment goes to the stores.
Fastrack is an educational, interactive, informative and developmental platform for graduate fashion design students to show their collections at an already popular fashion week. They are also able to gain insight into and information about the fashion industry.
Speaking at the official launch of Joburg Fashion Week, Paul Leisegang, the managing director of African Fashion International (AFI), the owners of this and other fashion weeks, said: “2011 brings with it exciting changes; not only a new team, but also an inspired commitment to partnerships – partnerships from grass roots level up with the Foschini Fastrack Graduate Day, and then reaching global proportions through the involvement with the RED campaign.”
Chairperson of AFI Precious Moloi-Motsepe addressed the young aspiring crowd and said: “it feels so good to be here. I feel so happy to see you all here”. She urged the up-and-coming designers to show what Joburg is all about.
“We’re doing it for you, we believe in you, you are the future of our country,” she said.
The RED campaign works with some of the world’s most recognised brands, such as American Express, Apple, Bugaboo, Converse, Dell, Emporio Armani, Gap, Hallmark, Nike, Penfolds, Penguin and Starbucks, to make unique products, giving up to 50 percent of their profits to global funds to invest in HIV and Aids programmes in Africa.
“In partnership with Foschini, Fastrack is a developmental day that will not only showcase young designers, but will also provide an interactive platform with educational and informative activities,” said Leisegang.
“[It is a] day created to develop and accelerate the new generation of design talent. Our exciting new partnership with Foschini has the long-term objective of improving the pool of new designers.”
Design schools that participated in Fastrack included Spero Villioti Elite Design Academy, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Johannesburg, SewAfrica and Lisof.
Fastrack graduate designers included Kutloano Molokomme, Minette Meyer, Nadine Holloway, Melita Ngoasheng, Lebogang Moatshe, Sunette Scheepers, Jessica Sutherland, Pride Nkosi, Laura Kass, Nkululeko Msibi, Phumzile Langa, Anja Bredell, Nkosi Nkala, Chantelle Nascimento, Sello Medupe and Portia Moruthane.
AFI also launched two developmental projects for young producers and photographers.
Nascimento drew inspiration for her collection, called A City Girl’s Guide to Fun, from the bustling city of Joburg. Nkala wowed the crowd, who got to their feet and cheered his semi-formal menswear range for the young working class.
Molokomme, a Spero Villioti graduate, aimed to portray his collection as memorable and collectable. He said: “Fashion collections stand at the meeting point of art, design and craftsmanship.”
Meyer noted that the inspiration for her designs was brought about by “beauty in ashes”, which she said captured people’s daily lives of chaos and brokenness and their transition to beauty. In turn, Ngoasheng was inspired by the Earth and its seasonal unpredictability in her collection. She used the colours of nature to illustrate her inspiration.
Sutherland was among the few who distributed synopses ahead of their shows to help the audience understanding their collections. She noted that her “aim was to find a way in which our clothing could be designed to respond to current and continuous change. Mood, context and weather were among my main points of focus.”
Her designs lent themselves particularly well to remixing and adaptation. “I was inspired by the idea of technologically intuitive clothing, but the idea of wearable technology seemed bulky and foreign to me. I wanted to make it more human. I wanted to create an interactive experience with the materials that have the closest relationship to our bodies,” she said.
Fashion Kapitol is the new melting pot for the fashion conscious and is expected to revive the inner city as a go-to place to find trendy and hip clothing. It is at 109 Prichard Street, in the heart of the Fashion District.
Joburg Fashion Week ends on 19 February; shows will be held at the Bus Factory, 3 President Street; Constitution Hill, which straddles Braamfontein and Hillbrow; the Rand Club on Fox Street; the Johannesburg Art Gallery on the corner of Klein and King George streets; and the Nelson Mandela Bridge that links Braamfontein and Newtown.
For more information and the full programme, go to the Joburg Fashion Week website.