I know it’s been an entire week since my travel to the Indian Ocean coastal side, but that’s how long I took to soak up all the marvels and establish proper contacts with showcased designers. As an invited guest of the eThekwini Municipality I was part of a few fashion media people chosen to witness design creativity in the city of Durban.
In the past, the fashion exhibitions were included in the annual Durban Business Flair and this year marked the first stand alone presentations. The shows were divided into five parts and these are my favourites form each segment.
THE YOUNG DESIGNERS SHOW.
These were pure examples of the quality workmanship I got to appreciate while in Durban. Normally, young designers showcase stuff clear of their lack of experience, threads everywhere, uneven fits and crappy constructions. House of ST Luke brought fine tailored menswear and Karla Lortan’s collection was the one to have. Full on white mod designs with Ndebele print details and part beading. Even, Marie Claire SA’s Fashion Director bagged a lovely peplum number too.
One must always celebrate growing talent. These designers have a bit of experience having taken part in fashion related events in and around their city. The level of professionalism is very clear in their creations. Lutuleigh took menswear edge to an exciting point with their handsomely finished high waist shorts. Tribal Skin Clothing is a menswear brand too; theirs was more street with major details. I’m talking, leather trimmings on denim shorts, pyramid studs on cotton t-shirts and then some! Sandile Mlambo of House of Alfalfa’s line had two pieces that just did right by my eye. For a self taught designer, he has some killer skills.
MZANSI FESTIVAL INVITED DESIGNERS.
We know these names (well, the fashion people do). Born in KZN and doing great work in different parts of the world, Mzansi Festival designers brought it hardest with selections of well inspired garments. I am insanely mad in love with perfect tailoring by Narainsamy. They didn’t only redefine the strength of menswear, they did it to perfection. Looking at Black Pepper, one understands the brand’s global stance. When there is a clearly communicated indefinable tribalism in a range, I am won.
On this level, these brands are best described as runway professionals. I for one was more than happy to acknowledge that their presence served as motivation to the young guns. Fundudzi has to be my absolute darling with their eco-luxe consciousness expressed through writings on unisex T-shirts and T-shirt dresses. You all know how I feel about those printed skinny belts! Whilst on the professionalism tip, ZARTH reeled in sexy in a non-cheesy manner. Zama Mathe gave us sheer, class, stylish and very today.
Italian designer Massimo Criveli was a guest at the fair and his designers were every bit an example of the much esteemed design integrity he is known for. With just the right amount of nostalgia with plentiful modernity, more like Twiggy and Bridget Bardot’s road trip across the African continent in the coming summer. It started on a safari note, transcended to a playful 1960’s Euro style (crazy all over London Fashion Week Spring 2013) and then sexy original geometrically cut out details.
To round things up, the leading menswear brand cemented the fact that Durban –or South Africa if you may, is fast becoming a go-to destination for beautifully constructed men’s clothing. We all know that there will never be faulty in a C-Squared garment, so I was looking at it from a trendy point. They served present trends and styling in a sensibly sellable manner. Manly pastel shorts were the craze I loved the most.
Please help me cross my fingers, thumbs, limbs and toes for the young designers. Some of them will get an internship opportunity with “the doctor of the fashion industry” Helene Blignaut in Italy. Their trip will take place during the “magic months” of January and February, starting in Milan where the most important fashion exhibitions and shows focusing on bags shoes and glasses take place. The next stop will be Florence where the emphasis is on men’s wear. During this time, the city attracts at least 10 000 of the world’s most respected fashion writers and top buyers from the top first level and department stores.
Images by SDR Photos.