Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Dressmakers' Convention disguised as Fashion Week

The utter disgust I felt when I walked into the room is undescribable; thank God for my acting skills! Last Saturday a former LISOF student I know invited me and a couple of friends to help with the "casting" of models for Mpumalanga Fashion Week. As we walked in we found him on his knees measuring things and instructing so-called models to do this and that. In another room in his Rosebank flat a so-called casting was in progress with some guy- who is apparently heading the production of shows at MFW- demanding these pseudo-models to strut for him in various ridiculous garments they were passing off as fashion design. I recall one particular "designer" walking in with her green harem pants clad model. "Production dude", as I will refer to him from here onwards, tore the "designer" apart. "I've so seen this before!" he said.
One could swear he was a "Project Runway" judge, the way he carried on.
"I've seen this before," he insisted and proceeded to demand that this poor dressmaker (read: the designer) "loosen the fit", "add this...", "add that...".
"Just do something, because I will not allow this on my runway."
The poor dressmaker was dumbfounded; she clearly thought her design innovative. "What am I supposed to do with it?" she asked.
Unable to contain myself I went ahead and asked what her inspiration for the collection- which I must mention was indistinguishable from five or six others we had witnessed from her fellow dressmakers- was. She uttered something around "Asian, Chinese..." and a whole lot of other things. Ummm... Asian? Maybe. But Chinese? *crickets*
The entire jamboree (for lack of a better term) felt like I was back in my township roots in the '90s, sitting at someone's garage as pretty little kasi girls line up to be dressed for a "Miss Boom Shaka" beauty contest (trust me; we used to have such things back then).
The point is; it is all good and well to create initiatives whereby aspirant designers can be led in the right direction and assisted in refining their craft, but passing what should be called a workshop or something of the sort as fashion week is an insult to our fashion industry in its entirety.
If there are indeed plans to create a national fashion council this needs to be fast-tracked so that such things can become a reality for the benefit of all who work and aspire to be part of the industry. Dressmakers' Conventions such as the one I refer to above can then be established- properly- to achieve a more cohesive and sustainable growth path for fashion in South Africa. At the moment it seems the words "fashion week" are being taken for granted and used very loosely. Such needs to come to an end!


Milisuthando Bongela said...

Hahaha Sandi it serves you right for even going there! Lol. But seriously, I agree with you.

Sandiso Ngubane said...

Lol. I was curious to see what the hell it is they are up to and I was proven right at every turn!

Buhle '08 said...

I was actually talking about the many fashion weeks we have in SA that it has become ridiculous. MFW??? WTF for?
Totally agree that we need a proper national fashion council that will govern- for lack of a better word- the fashion in SA...
soon there's going to be a Soweto Fashion Week and then we all goingb to die...