Monday, January 31, 2011


Michelle Obama found herself at the centre of a controversy around her choice to wear Alexander McQueen rather than an American designer at a recent state dinner. Like princess-to-be Kate Middleton in the UK, American Designers want prominent Americans to support them, so wearing Alexander McQueen rather than Oscar De La Renta (who has been the most vocal on this issue) or some other American designer has sent tempers sky rocketing. What word did they use? Oh, yes- "disappointing" is how Council of Fashion Designers of America president Diane Von Furstenberg put it.
One blog post by Cathy Horyn of The New York Times that I've just read points out the hypocrisy. A lot of these designers (bar De La Renta perhaps) have no leg to stand when it comes to issues of American pride, so to speak. A lot of their business is outsourced to China, leaving New York's Garment District in a state of economic peril.
As the Fashion District in central Johannesburg comes to life with the first day of Joburg Fashion Week next month (the day Fashion Kapitol officially opens) designers in Johannesburg ought to learn from this. They need to ask the question; how do we, in our own small way, contribute to social good and the economic well being of the city we call our home. It is in everyone's interest to make the vision of rescucitating the fashion disctrict in Johannesburg back to good health and I hope fashion stakeholders will not see it as the sole responsibility of government as the Americans have sought to corner their First Lady.
Read Cathy Horyn's analysis on this controversy here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All Brogued Up!

I guess one could take a look at the catwalks of London, Paris, Milan and New York to see what designers are putting on their models' feet, but I- for one- choose to look at street style blogs and everywhere around me. Brogues are just everywhere in different shapes and colours with her perforations- or his if you want- and bold, good looks. And they've been showing up on retail store shelves for a number of seasons now. For some obscure reason, I still don't own a pair.
At least now I know what to look out for next time I go shopping! They've definitely become a wardrobe essential.


Young Design talent to be "fast tracked" by Foschini

Former Miss South Africa, Tatum Keshwar, dressed elegantly in David Tlale at the laungh of Joburg Fashion Week on Tuesday last week

African Fashion International (AFI) and fashion retailer Foschini are collaborating on a new initiative to “FASTRACK”, as the program is called, the careers of young fashion designers. According to the press release, Foschini and AFI believe this is a new initiative. It isn’t. SA Fashion Week, ELLE Magazine and Mr. Price have been doing this for quite a while now.

AFI and Foschini will, on 15 February, host a developmental day for participating fashion education institutions, where young design talent will not only be showcased but will also be given “a platform for educational and informative dialogue”.
Says newly appointed AFI MD, Paul Leisegang; “We are excited about our extended partnership with Foschini. Our aim is to entertain, educate and inform, with the long term objective of improving the pool of new generation designers in SA”.
Fast track will be on the first day of this year’s annual Joburg Fashion Week, which will be held from the 15th to the 19th of February at various locations around the city of Johannesburg, including the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge.
Fast track will itself be taking place at the long awaited Fashion Kapitol in central Johannesburg’s fashion district, where shops, restaurant and office space has been established as part of the city’s regeneration project.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Success for Fashion Bloggers

Bloggers Bryanboy (third from left) and Tommy Ton (far-right) seaed amongst fashion editors Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes, Sally Singer and Hamish Bowles at New York Fashion Week last year.

Bloggers, the underdogs of the fashion media (well, at least we used to be), have transcended many boundaries in the past two years to emerge as legitimate industry players even though some would still like to believe that bloggers are the less important cousin of fashion editors; the bastard kids, if you may. Well, those with that sort of outlook are stuck in the middle-ages of the last decade if recent developments are anything to go by.

First came Scott Schuman, of The Sartorialist blog, who published his street fashion chronicles in a book of the same title. In 2008 Filipino blogger Bryanboy earned global acclaim after designer Marc Jacobs named a bag after him. Two years later, in 2010, Bryanboy- amongst others- was a globetrotting fashion front row fixture alongside the likes of Anna Wintour and Sally Singer. The blogger had officially arrived!
If you thought that was it for bloggers, 2011- albeit very early in the year- is proving you completely wrong! Swedish blogger Elin Kling is soon to debut a fashion collection in collaboration with H&M and one blogger by the name of Daniel Saynt, founder of the blog Fashion Indie, has been named marketing officer for revered bag designer Rebecca Minkoff. Suddenly the crossover to corporate success is beckoning for bloggers.
So, if you still harbour the notion that bloggers are irrellevant, annoying media wannabes, you might just want to update the software in that pretty little head of yours.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

H&M breaks new ground with a blogger collabo

Swedish blogger Elin Kling has become the first ever blogger to collaborate with a retail chain on a collection. H&M, the world-renowned fashion retailer, known for collaborations with big name designers like Alber Elbaz and Stella McCartney amongst others, has once again broken new ground with this unprecedented move. Before this the most widely publicised inroad into fashion history made by a blogger was when Marc Jacobs designed a bag and named it after his favourite blogger Bryan Boy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bloggers United!

The title of this post is my way of acknowledging my fellow bloggers, a lot of whom I know personally, for the support they've shown me over the past year of blogging on this space. I also would like to thank all of you for taking time every now and again to check out what this blogger has to say on issues relating to fashion and life. I appreciate all of you and hope you will continue to support.
With that said, here are a couple of comments that you have left on these pages recently that I enjoyed reading. See, even when we disagree on certain issues, what always makes me smile is that we are slowly achieving what for me is an important goal; beginning to have a dialogue about fashion!

Stacey: Commenting on "The Non-Existant Fashion Journalism in SA"
"What an interesting read! Though I do tend to agree with the various points that you make, I find myself siding with Maque DeGorgeous on this topic. A runway is a designers platform to present to someone, anyone, in a visual manner, all the creative ideas and mysteries that have filled his/her mind for however long a period of time. It is not, in my opinion, the platform to present that which is practical, unless your creative inspiration was rooted in practicality. It is the role of magazines, their stylists and the representatives of fashion media to take what is on a runway and present it in a wearable way to their audience. It is their job to interpret trends and make something practical out of the outrageous. Fashion is Art. And I think it's great if designer has the budget and backing to present the ideas of his mind with reckless abandon!"

Buhle: Commenting on "Starting 2011 off on a Highly Fashionable Note"
"Good for you Sandiso! Its great that bloggers are making forays into glossies! You're a great ambassador for us bloggers!"
(Note to Buhle: Thank you very much for the vote of confidence)
Buhle blogs at

Vuyo: Commenting on "Milisuthando Bongela: Marie Claire's Blogger of the Month"
"Her blog is awesome and so informative...It has given me a view I did not have into the fashion industry and how to appreciate fashion, especially our SA fashion talent."
(Note to Vuyo: Glad that you are learning something from bloggers. I'm sure Mili is also glad to have contributed something. That is, after all, what we all aim to do; contribute to the growth of South African fashion. Wonderful!)

Juan Camilo: Commenting on "Leopard Print for Men... Would you (Let him)?"
"World is changing, we're in post modern time, so why should we feel ashame of trying new stuff, we most do the difference, because if we keep waiting for the mind developend of the poeple of the world we will keep being a mannequin controlated by the media and just doing what they do think that you should do...if you get my point, risk yourself, i love animal prints i wish i could get more of then, shameless my country is even more closed mind... wish you well."

Maque DeGorgeous on "The Non Existent Fashion Journalism in SA"
"You raise valid points in this article but i just want to unpack a few points and give my feedback on it: "There’s also this sickening mentality that if a designer’s collections are simple and practical, this designer has no idea what they are doing. Fashion is an art." - I touched on this topic in one of my posts. I believe that a ramp is about telling a story. it needs the glitz, glam and razmatazz as with a broadway show. Presenting unimaginative pieces (which may be practical) is letting yourself down. ART should be fresh and new! I should not thinkwhen watching a show); i saw that in truworths or i can recreate that with something i saw at Mr Price-matched with something from my closet or worse still; Kluk did that last season... it should be fresh! Couture is fabulous but not practical - agreed. but have you seen the watered-down version of the garments? this is the angle writers and stylists should focus on! It's practical and adaptable to everyday life, well, almost! As you once aptly put it - fashion shows should be a meeting of designers, fashion writers, editors (stylists included), buyers and creative students (for learning purposes) - and these are people with an eye to interpret your message and therefore sell it to the masses. You cannot present a simple maxi dress and expect me to get excited - true that as a stylist it offers a fantastic foundation but in my humnble opinion - writers/editors/stylists should have a top-down approach (unpack what's presented and translate it into a wearable garment to suite the consumer. As for fashion writers/editors - it's disgusting that trinkets buy their favour and unfortunately that - and not your specific talent - seems to be the currency these days. I believe this is where the blogosphere becomes important! Traditional media have to please, bloggers don't! Fashion Journalism is poor in the country, that I will agree with! I had a brief discussion on this subject with Thula (though the focus was primarily on a well known blogger who's changed his style writing)- he has opted to become a fashion-celebrity-socialite and fails to deliver the tongue-in-cheek which his blog was known for. He is not subjective any more. He plays to the tune of the designers to score whatever is thrown his way. Though i still love his blog - it's lost it's lustre for me. The point here is; as soon as your focuses changes from writing and publicising to being the "celebrity," then you've lost the plot! Sorry about the blog-in-a-blog and the scattered ideas presented - but i absolutley loved this article! We should do a colab on this - a full debate on some of the ideas presented - i think it would be a great afternoon! call a few designers to chip in and see what they have to say... "
Maque blogs at

These are only a few of many comments I've been blessed to receive from you. Blogger or not, it excites me to think there are many of us out there who feel it is important to engage about fashion.
My journey continues and I'd like nothing more than to believe that you will continue to stay on this ride with me. Thanks to all of you who congratulated my crossover to mainstream media (magazines).

Much Love

Carinne Roitfeld and the sudden departure from French Vogue

The rumour mill is seldom ever still and the sudden departure of French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld was bound to set it turning. Largely tipped to replace Anna Wintour- which I didn't forsee for a long time to come- at US Vogue (he magazine's most influential edition), why would Carine suddenly leave?
For those who don't know, Carine has been one of the world's most controversial fashion mag editors, recently making headlines for an oil-spill themed spread (after the whole BP debacle) and painting white models black before that. Her genius did, at times, land her in hot water.
Read the following extract from Telegraph UK:

"Although Roitfeld officially resigned, saying that she wanted to concentrate on personal projects, rumours have been buzzing around the internet that she was forced to leave for a variety of different reasons. One theory is that LVMH boss Bernard Arnault was so incensed by a shoot featuring young girls wearing full make-up in a recent issue, that he threatened to pull all the advertising of his brands. Other insiders claim that Roitfeld was spending too much time on freelance ventures, which would square with Romatet's statement that Emmanuelle Alt would be working exclusively with the magazine."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Are Men Finding Therapy in Retail, too?

Well, if an article in Women's Wear Daily is anything to go by, men are finding a new competitive ground and that is fashion. Apparently experts say there is an increase in men's wear sales that is being fuelled by the recession. Men's pockets are shrinking and they are looking to fashion as a less expensive way to assert themselves.
“From a psychological perspective, fashion is pleasurable. It’s a way to express a sense of hope. A new shirt can change your mood. A new suit can give you confidence. A new pair of shoes makes you look at life differently,” says Marc GobĂ©, president of think-tank Emotional Branding LLC.
“Fashion is not an expensive way to feel good about yourself. At a time when the economy is tough and people have lots of anxieties on their shoulders, there’s been a big change in how men are looking at fashion."
I wonder how true it is. I know personally I don't need to be convinced by economic patterns that I need fashion as a "competitive hobby", I just love clothes. But I do find some truth in this because men do have egoes that need stroking. Fashion does that brilliantly. Tell anyone how good they look and their face involuntarily attests to this. Read the article on WWD here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Hopes for South African Fashion in 2011

The past year has been one of interesting developments for me and one of these has been the recognition I've received from various players in the fashion and media industries. 2010 was quite a year indeed; I learnt a lot and I am hoping to learn a lot more about the ins-and-outs of fashion in South Africa and the continent at large.
My own journey in this industry, which I've been sharing on the pages of this blog, has been characterised by the realisation that our fashion industry is quite small and that the business of fashion is something that is often taken less seriously than the creative side of things. I've also learnt with much disappointment that, although designers seem to have this belief that their creativity alone is capable of building their businesses, that creativity itself hasn't spawned much innovation. That is; the catwalks seem to be churning out the same-old same-old, season after season.
I've personally been criticised on many fronts for honestly representing my views on this blog and have pointed out on many occassions that I'm in no way interested in impressing anyone. My interests lie with documenting South African fashion's journey in addition to contributing as much as I can to its growth through commentary and any other way I am given the opportunity to.
With that said, I hope that 2011 will be the year in which the major stakeholders in SA fashion- together with government and business- stop paying lip-service to their commitments to the industry and establish the long overdue National Fashion Council. Once that is done I have no doubt in my mind that a lot of the pieces that are the South African fashion industry puzzle will come together.