Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Shot from the opening of (Naked Ape) Shaldon Kopman's "Basotho" showcase at SAFW
“It’s a famine of beauty,” Vogue Editor-at-Large, Andre Leon Talley, complains in a scene in the documentary “The September Issue”. And I have no other words to sum up my feelings about the SA Fashion Week Autumn/Winter collections, which closed on Sunday at the Crowne Plaza in Rosebank.

The question that kept popping up in my head is whether or not designers actually think before they put together what is supposedly a collection.

With the exception of Suzaan Heyns, Tiaan Nagel, Shaldon Kopman, Joel Janse van Vuuren and Colleen Eitzen, of all the shows I saw, none were able to see through any obvious vision for their winter 2012 offering. It is utterly depressing.

But then again, thinking back a few weeks, I remember going to the opening of an arts exhibition at Circa Gallery. It was huge and well attended. It was billed as the collaboration of the current ten best South African artists. I remember asking Felipe Mazibuko, whom I had gone there with, where the fashion designers were, because the only two I saw were Ella of Superella and Marianne Fassler. The reason I ask this question is because, as one who often goes to arts-related events, I do expect to see creative people engaging with other art forms beyond the one they’ve chosen for themselves. This, I feel, opens one to other worlds and, of course, inspires creativity. Instead, one only sees designers at gigs where cameras are flashing and shwashwi’s are waiting to find a scoop to lead with in the Sunday gossip columns. Do note, I am in no way prescribing what anyone must do to be inspired, just suggesting one way of doing it.

I’m in no way saying that everyone must come up with a collection to measure up to David Tlale, Clive Rundle or Suzaan. But how dare you expect buyers and the fashion media to appreciate what is obviously something you don’t put your heart into as a designer and then frown upon people when the reviews come back unfavourable? Yes, the ignorant, self-important ones will contend that they are not in the industry to serve the fashion media and I will put it to them that without that very same fashion media- people who also happen to be the most loyal to local fashion, by the way- that take it upon themselves to showcase local talent in an industry where there’s a lot of resistance to filling the fashion pages with South African designers’ work. It is the same fashion media that often alerts fashion lovers to your talent and, you know what, that is what fashion week is about; showcasing to people who will give you that very necessary exposure. Otherwise, why are you there? If you are too good to even pay attention to what is in fact constructive criticism then leave the fashion week stage altogether!

To read ELLE Magazine fashion editors, Poppy Evans and Asanda Sizani's views on the matter, click here

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