Tuesday, September 30, 2008


D Squared S|S 2009 'Charlie's Angels' Photographer: Marcio Madeira

Interesting take on the 70's with some snazzy tailoring and the best quality from Dean and Dan Caten so far. The over top twins were inspired by 'Charlie's Angels' and in particular Farah Fawcett. Oversized jewelled neck pieces, belts and harnesses on fluid jersey dresses through you back to the days of Halston and Studio 54. Sharp wide leg denim pants and fitted jackets teamed with American plaid shirts were strong looks. The in your face spaced out 90's rock star glam was replaced by a quieter (still sultry) contemporary sexiness.

Christian Dior S|S 2009 'Tribal' Photographer: Alessandro Lucioni

A dilution of the last couture collection John Galliano was just not in the same form as is his previous collections. If you think he went quieter then maybe creative silence would best describe the collection. The signature porn star shoes remained but had African fertility dolls as heels.......same for the neckpieces. Bodices on dresses were beaded with cowrie shells and a distorted polka dot print almost took on a leopard print. If this was Dior's way of trying to reign the designer in and make for a more commercial collection then to an extent the silhoeuttes were wearable however not sure if the transparency will cut it? Maybe Carla Bruni for her next state visit will need to ask for linings to be added to some of the gossamer light gowns that were presented which all had the 20's type bathing suit bottoms underneath it all...........Python skin was huge in this collection...and in Prada. Overall not quite the collection one would expect but then again maybe Dior is heading for change..........

Versace S|S 2009 'Tough Love' Photographer: Marcio Madeira

Donatella has cleaned up Versace or so the buzz was in Milan. The collection was pared down and this season she used hearts as a motif for her collection. She cleverly used zip detail and zipper teeth to form heart shapes on garments. Whilst the collection was ready to wear it had many couture type details and she correctly added that people who were buying pret a porter want to see details and workmanship. A neat collection which still had the Versace edge to it but far more sophisticated. This was a great follow on from her resort collection which had already premiered many of the season's popular looks. Versace it seems is heading in a new direction and most buyers seemed impressed and ready to spend again on this collection.

Maison Martin Margiela S|S 2009 'Bon Anniversaire' Photographer: Marcio Madeira

Martin Margiela celebrated 20 years on the scene and sent down a collection to rapturous applause. Whilst many were at the show in Paris to celebrate the success and the zany if not completely OTT signature style of the house........many were there to see whether the enigmatic Martin could still serve up a dose of madness. True to his reputation he did not fail........this included sending down a birthday cake of gargantuan proportions down the runway. Wigs, wigs and more wigs covered models faces and created a an eery if not surreal collection. Conceptual in the extreme but with all the technical competence and mastery of a house and designer worthy of celebrating 20 years in fashion.

Gianfranco Ferre S|S 2009 'Geometry' Photographer: Marcio Madeira

Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi are the duo from 6267 that have taken over at Ferre. This collection was architectural (not surprising since Mon Ferre did train as an architect) but more then anything it was modern and wearable with the perfect balance of 'show only' pieces and enough separates and suits to be a commercial success. Amazing construction and much better then the job being done at Valentino by Fachinetti...........

D&G S|S 2009 'Cote Azure' Photographer: Marcio Madeira

The second line at Dolce & Gabbana, D&G was nautical. Stripes, stars, gold emblems, sailors knots and nautical flags were abound in all the collection. The duo borrowed their inspiration from Coco Chanel........the tweed, stripes and drop waisted dresses were all there. An interesting collection but not sure the 50's maillots are going to be such a hit for the D&G clientele who tend to be young and far more 'out there'.

Balmain S|S 2009 'Bling Rock' Photographer: Marcio Madeira

Christophe Decarnin sent a collection out to the pounding sounds of Madonna. Whilst this opening show to Paris Fashion Week set the tone and energy it was also a flash back to the 80's. The brash and loud designs of Gianni Versace came screaming back at your memory but this collection was anything but a re-hash. It was a clever interpretation with clever and unique details. Two most interesting details stand out and mark my words they are about to be copied pretty soon by many others out there. Firstly the sleeve with the peaked crown was an interesting addition to jackets. The second thing which was an interesting detail was the suede dresses which were left raw and unfinished.......

Dolce & Gabbana S|S 2009 'Pigiama Baroque' Photographer: Marcio Madeira

The actual theme behind the collection were pyjamas! The duo cleverly used traditional masculine shapes and subverted them in the cut and details to create a sexy and sleek collection. There was an interesting mix of fabrics with some garments having up to 5 different types of brocades in the construction. Fluid pyjama weight failles, satins and crepes were combined to create a relaxed feel. Even though some of the garments looked overtly constructed the feel was soft to the touch. Unlike many designers this season the duo wanted to create garments that loooked structured but were still comfortable to wear. Heavily jewelled belts accessorised garments to create cinched waists and the clutch bags became the new jewellery this season for Dolce & Gabbana. Heavily beaded and embellished bags, including ones made from porcupine quills added to the luxe value of the collection........

Bottega Veneta S|S 2009 'Modern American Prairie' Photographer: Marcio Madeira

I love this brand but not the clothes....give me the bags and accessories any day. Maier, the designer said that this season the clothes were not about being ostentatious......I agree Bottega Veneta is not about screaming logos or for the nouveau riche.......its for the discerning......Whilst the leather is the best available in the world and this season the butter soft leather dresses were amazing..the rest could have been a contemporary wardrobe for 'Little House on the Prairie'..........rich women playing poor....................


Azzedine Alaia - Arts of Fashion Foundation Hyeres

Yes yes yes I know I have been way to occupied on other things to write up more but hopefully this week provides some relief in being able to pay attention to my blog.
Been an interesting week all round betwixt catching up with much needed sleep and the latest SS 2009 collections it has been interesting looking at the way we trade in a recession (oops I said that darn word) and the way we adapt (or die) in this exceptionally cold retail climate.

Anyone who tells me that fashion retail is doing exceptionally well is either under the influence of some cheap intoxicant or firmly messed up by their own sense of distorted reality. For those of us that have retail outlets I think we are all finding it hard to sell to clients who are tightening up their budgets akin to Alaia dresses.The only people that seem to find our prices acceptable and reasonable seem to be the foreign guests in our city. Even some of these foreigners seem to think shopping in Cape Town is similar to the haggling that goes on in Bangkok or Hong Kong.......whilst some of us may have to resought to this I find it condescending in the extreme and choose not to be a participant of this type of transaction..........

There are great things that I find have come out of this slump........I think that the average consumer is being far more discerning and that they are shopping around for value for money. I find more consumers are becoming hooked on quality as opposed to buying something which is not manufactured well or priced reasonably. Trust me even my local gals are impressing me by knowing the difference of silk based fabrics and bias cut dresses so that's a great start. Those who peddle polyester dresses under the guise of being 100% silk beware! Having a label in one's garment is not good enough.....it must stand the test of time by living up to the values and qualities it espouses. This is the time for differentiation and taking the time to improve one's marketing and retail skills. Whilst the rest complain and drink endless coffees lamenting the current state of affairs I think it is better spent on finding suitable avenues of revenue which complement one's existing business. This might also mean that this is a good time to explore international distribution as long as you can deliver a product which is unique, well made and well priced. More importantly I think this is the time that one should get out of the office and hit the streets to find out what's really happening out there.

Often as designers we sit back and work in the safe confines of our studios without an understanding of the reality out 'there'. I am not sure we are able to identify our potential market or the future customers if we don't get to know their needs. Getting to grips with the current market slump is important as it equips us with dealing with situations like this in the future and will possibly assist in adapting to market needs in the prevailing conditions. Maybe too many silk chiffon dresses are not what people are looking for out there? Maybe the gingham shirt shirt will not be the most wanted item in this season's wardrobe.........maybe those origami detailed dresses are going to end up in smoke......? Consumer feedback is important and more then that will assist in building your customer profile which enables you to design product that caters for them rather then alienate them.
This is the time to balance creativity with astute commercial sense......its necessary and a must to survive the months ahead.............there is no shame in cutting back or trying to prevent loss of income - rather that then complete ruin.
I find myself consulting to many brands who overlook minor elements of their business that can assist in generating revenue.........my advice to all those writing to me is think laterally and think smart.......sometimes its not the big changes but the minor one's that have the biggest impact in your business...................hang in there we all in it together!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The die has been cast as Julius Caesar once said......there is no turning back after crossing the Rubicon it would seem.

There have been many emails and telephone calls around the impending launch of a Graduate Fashion Week. A good idea given the fact that there is no platform that graduates can showcase their final year collections to a captive and discerning industry audience. An awesome opportunity to discover new talent, enable potential employers to snap up young creatives and to develop these fledgling designers. I proposed this idea last year to Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe (AFI Chairperson) and at that stage there somehow seemed to be no need for it. Be that as it may this is not an idea which was I claimed to be original (there are many similar type fashion weeks around the world) and as I predicted someone (largely driven this time by Elizabeth Galloway Academy) would come along and pursue it. Anyway given the fact that it was announced that Durban Fashion Week was going to be the seminal platform for young talent in the country there seemed to be no need to further pursue this as an option. Well it now seems that we will have a Graduate Fashion Week spearheaded by tertiary fashion institutions which I think is absolutely brilliant and who better to formulate this event then the people teaching these young minds. This off course has all been facilitated under the Cape Town Fashion Council in Cape Town........well how could they not?

So the interesting news behind it all is that this fashion week is out for pitch as clearly all the institutions are not in the business of running shows or managing the infrastructure required, or they (The Graduate Fashion Week committee/alliance/co-operative) couldn't decide who's brother/sister/hairdresser/boyfriend could produce this event. So it turns out 3 companies pitch, one a shopping mall show producer (cheap) , another a respected producer in the country and wait for it drum roll..................AFI! The latter apparently bringing in all the bells and whistles of management, sponsorship procurement and nationwide television coverage. I managed to check this and all three entities pitching have the same dates on hold at the V&A Waterfront (Marquee venue on Breakwater Boulevard although the venue seems to vacillate between this and The Runway). Forget the lack of ethics that suppliers seem to be bickering over........who found the venue first............who's quote has been distributed to all and sundry etc etc etc etc

This does seem to have caused a few fashionable ears to prick up....... I do think on the surface that they (AFI) are more then entitled to do so as it is an openly capitalist economy that we find ourselves in and quite clearly it fits in with their strategy of 'owning fashion' in the country.

The emails (including to my surprise some correspondence from the players involved!) I am receiving are asking other questions around this though............
  • AFI have an existing event which is driven around young designers/graduates in the form of MTN Durban Fashion Week. Is this not a conflict of interest? The intention of establishing this Graduate Fashion Week is to do so on a national basis so is this not about to sidestep MTNDFW? Wonder what the legal opinion on this would be..... as they do have another partner in Vanashree Singh to consider with MTNDFW. Does the CTFC or the tertiary institutions not see this as a conflict of interest or is it acceptable under the banner of being 'synergistic'?
  • Why would it seem that the concept of a Graduate Fashion Week was so far fetched last year and this year seemed so attractive. Is this providing AFI with the much needed support for their developmental programme in fashion or an opportunity to harvest young designers for the other fashion weeks they host............or acquiring equity in another event?
  • Using the television programme 'African Couture' as leverage is not quite right is it? After all this is not meant to be a programme that specifically covers AFI's events and sponsors solely?
  • A Graduate Fashion Week is meant to be representative of the country and inclusive? So anyone spoken to Lucilla Booyzen at SAFW or Sonwabile Ndamase at Vukani Awards?

In pondering all these questions posed I hope that this event goes on to be staged to empower the young designers without there being the type of infighting, bullying and backstabbing reminiscent of the Roman Senate. Whoever is about to be tasked with taking this event forward should do so with the interests of the designers being foremost and not as event organisers or fashion week producers. Furthermore this event has to have a separate identity which embraces and fosters the spirit of young creative talent. The CTFC whilst sitting impervious to the actual needs of these designers needs to act in their best interests with the objectivity of an autonomous body. Whatever happens there is no turning back and we will soon see the labours of those trying to establish this fashion week brought to fruition. Those who scream integrity, honesty and true professionalism should go forth enshrouded with the sound they make and for once think of not their interests but those of the industry that sustains their daily livelihoods.....and positions they hold.

'The world holds enough to satisfy everyone's need, but not everyone's greed' Gandhi

PS - Please do not send me anymore correspondence on this as I have had my say on this and its time to move on............

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Pet Shop Boys, 'Planet of the Apes' & Pac-Man

London Fashion Week is well on its way.......and either I am not getting it or fashion is being pushed sideways for collections that are created to look at rather then to be worn. I do love a bit of conceptual fashion (well thought out and executed and conceptual collections can literally leave you winded sometimes) but when it does in the hope that one can make front pages or get noticed then it all looks too contrived. The younger designers (and not so young) have started showing collections that would send any harajuku to wardrobe heaven. As opposed to any other fashion week in the world....London has always been seen to be cutting edge and more street. Now whilst I must agree with this and say that it has bred some of the finest designers most of them choose not to show there anymore and each year the contingent of press heavyweights tend to dwindle. This season the inspirations ranged from 'Planet of the Apes', Pac-Man, Pet Shop Boys to 'Blade Runner' (including a host of artists that even Google would have a problem finding!) . There is an extreme obsession with the 80's going on this week and whilst I find history repeating itself I cannot help think of my grand dame mentor , Jenny Le Roux, who has often said that the great thing about fashion repeating itself is that you can leave out the naff stuff. Well trust me the naff was there in all its finest glory......... Are they falling into the trap of trying to be so different that it ends up being just overhashed arbitrary inspirations that are so far removed from the clothing? Do I sense a bit of what is going on in SA................designers showing collections and justifying the ends without any explanation (logical or coherent). If one is aiming at designing purely conceptual fashion then where does the twain meet when it comes to making your collection commercially viable? I love Hussein Chalayan but where is he now? The same people that lauded his collections/installations are the same ones that begged at the end of the day to be able to wear them.......clearly wearing a dress as a table did not cut it (it appears that sitting in it posed a few problems...). The respect and praise that was heaped on him is now at an all time low......why? Simple being a great designer means being commercially successful in the real world...........being a pure artist is another thing altogether. I do hope that we are able to see him show again just for the mere fact that Hussein does conceptual like no one can at the moment.........it was always well thought out and the presentation was pure genius.........and the garments superbly crafted. A far cry from the badly crafted collections that are coming out........Roksanda Ilincic being the most guilty here......with most saying she lacked the couture skills to pull off the collection she showed.

Christopher Kane S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira
Christopher Kane was another designer everyone was waiting for this season. Yep this is where "Planet of the Apes"served as the inspiration to the designer.......yup interesting. He does tend to overstate the one detail he picks up on.....last season it was the layers and layers of ruffles and this season its circle upon circle of organza. If I thought that I did not get this collection then I was fortunately not alone in that boat of confusion. The one thing though that must be said is that as a new designer to the scene he was trying to bring a commercial sense to the collection. The circle cutting was not all that new and if anyone cared to remember Valentino 3 seasons ago then one would note it was all premiered there. This was the boy that was touted as being able to assist Donatella Versace in breathing new life into the Versace brand.........he worked a bit with her and then it all fizzled out.........no one knows what really went on there.

Louise Goldin S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira

Kane was still great compared to Louise Goldin. Goldin known for her innovative take on knitwear showed a collection..............well you decide............That ubiquitous word 'interesting' reared its head post show which actually translates into : I'm not quite sure what that was about and I am not sure whether I missed something but I would rather reserve full judgement and take some time to digest it all and/or it was just an assault on my sense of taste!

Giles Deacon S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira
Giles (Giles Deacon) aka Pac Man showed another collection which was as he said "ridiculously simple but incredibly graphic". Again this was a collection that featured simple silhouettes with strong graphic colour blocking done in the construction of the dresses which again had everyone muttering that Giles has "grown up"..........in fashion speak it would mean: Yes he has gotten over that experimental phase where he needed the attention and now he is into trying to create a consumer base for his clothes.

Richard Nicoll S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira
So far Australian designer Richard Nicoll showed a strong collection. New takes on the classic T-shirt and pants with a clean sporty look and really great use of colour. In fact its not easy for a designer to take colours that are sometimes on the verge of bad taste and make it look fab in a garment. I liked this collection. Established Brit brands like Aquascutum, Mulberry, Jaeger and House of Holland showed interesting collections which were clear attempts at revitalising the staid perception of their brands and attracting a younger clientele without alienating their existing clients.

What I did find interesting was last week Marc Jacobs showed an eclectic and layered collection largely inspired by Broadway, American country naïveté and American designer Perry Ellis. Zany accessories and hats reigned supreme..........and the colours were electric, metallic tweeds, shot Lurex plaids and ginghams all in one melting pot but cleverly put together. Now it was interesting to see just how many designers seemed to have thrown in that multi-layered approach in their styling........down to the hats and in one collection even the same soundtrack ('Rhapsody in Blue' by George Gershwin) as Jacobs.............copying/inspiration it seems has no limits and sometimes no shame.........
London being no exception......

Saturday, September 13, 2008


The Spring|Summer 09 collections are on at present and I was really interested by all the designers inspirations for their collections. Off course all the trends are pretty much the same and all the silhouettes are repeated in most of the collections so far but for me there are a few that stood out all for various reasons.........the following collections and thoughts engrossed my mind over the last few days.

Chado Ralph Rucci S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira/Firstview.com

Firstly it was great to see Chado Ralph Rucci on show (I love the name. FYI 'Chado' is the name of a traditional Japanese tea drinking ceremony symbolizing respect, tranquility and integrity). He is really a designer who has impeccable craftsmanship and like the tea drinking ceremony has an austere sense of style. In fact only the second designer to be invited by Paris’ Chambre Syndicale to show on schedule at the Couture collections in Paris. He had a 'sabbatical' to Paris recently but is back in New York and has a small atelier on 7th Avenue run by his sister. His 2009 collection was a follow on from his last Winter collection. Laser cut jackets and wool insets on tulle created a very structured collection with strong architectural influences. Muted colours reigned supreme and the intricate geometric tailoring and construction made this collection one which only those with a refined appreciation of clothing as art and couture could take in. Rucci is an artist himself and his has an extensive collection of art from up-and-coming artists. He often collaborates with them to create new prints or references them in his collections. For his shows he has mostly collaborated with Thomas Newman (film score composer) to create the music. I mention all of these as I think it is something back here in SA we are often scared of doing........i.e. collaborating. Pooling creative talents in attaining the final look is sometimes crucial to the final product. If you ever get to see this designer's collection then you will understand the level detail he goes into in producing and showing a collection. I loved this collection...........

Vera Wang S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira/Firstview.com

Vera Wang showed a collection that was inspired by proto-pop French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Garments were layered and embellished with abstract geometric sequin shapes with interesting colour blocking. Layers of transparent gazars in citron, mandarin and bronze were overlaid on solid bases to create a relaxed take on post modern boho chic. This collection was a strong attempt at creating a unique signature for her ready to wear away from the 'oh so pretty' wedding dress empire she has established. The buzz was that this collection had a 'newness' to it to please Wang's loyal clientele but also strong enough to attract new clients as well. The chunky cameo type jewellery was a collaboration between Wang and jewellery designer Janis Savitt. Wang echoed all the trend silhouettes this season..........skinny cigarette pants........the slouchy relaxed fitting dresses and the ethereal lightness of layering fabrics.

Ralph Lauren S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira & Maria Valentino/Firstview.com

Ralph Lauren took a trip down to North Africa this season for his collection and one could not help but think of Yves Saint Laurent's take on this in the 70's. In true Lauren style the collection was a balanced mix of wearable separates. The fabrics were luxurious and ranged from laminated linens in olive, beige linens, cream silk satins, black, parachute silk in bronze and the ever present gold that Lauren loves so much. If anything he added to the relaxed and slouchy feel that is coming through so strongly in the collections this season. The pants sat on the hip and were caught mid calf or ankle - think harem pants but not as traditional worn with double belts. Oh and the jumpsuit made its biggest comeback in this collection.....so we can look foward to that making a huge return in the months to come. The over the top turbans set the tone for the collections but entrenched the collection and in some way I cannot help but think that it also added to another important debate going on at the moment when it comes to the catwalks. Lauren used a large contingent of black models this season (yep 5 out of 20 models on show was major news!) and was probably the only designer who addressed this issue in his show........he closed with Somalian model Ubah Hassan.

A good start but lets see if this continues in the collections to come.
There were many other collections that caught my eye........ Marchesa (my money is on Oscar nominees wearing these gowns. This presentation was held at the Chelsea Art Museum with models on white cubes. Twenty four exquisite pieces that left you drooling for more.

Marchesa S|S 2009

Phi super cool label that presented interesting takes on the seasons staples. Again inspired by Ettore Sottsass the highly influential designer/architect of the 60's. Intricately pleated dresses and a new take on the 80's silhouettes were major standouts.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

THE SOUND OF SILENCE....................

EDVARD MUNCH 'The Scream' 1893

What's been really interesting is the number of calls and emails that I have received after starting this blog. Quite clearly it seems that there are many people who share my sentiments and who whilst reading it found that they could relate to some of what I had written. Whilst I have to say this is encouraging I wonder why they never said or did anything about it before. Afraid perhaps?

It always puzzles me to think that we are all in this industry together and if we collectively stand together we will be able to overcome many of these fears. This is meant to be our industry and surely we should all be having a say in the direction and the shape that it takes on in the future? I suppose as one of my colleagues this morning said to me that if you do make a 'noise' or challenge something then you run the risk of being labeled a rabble-rouser or being far too outspoken...... like I am. Well shoot me if you want but are we not all born with the innate ability to speak our minds? Are we not here to make sure that our interests and rights are safeguarded? Is it not our constitutional right to defend the the things that we hold close to our hearts? If we continuously just listen, obey and follow are we not part of a dictatorship..........?

If fear is the thing that holds us back then what is it that we are actually afraid of? Are we afraid that we will no longer cut the grade to be on guestlists, be featured on TV, hob nob with the 'fashion police'.........or risk being branded insubordinate? By remaining silent where would it get you long term? Will you be able to sit back and say that you actualised your full potential unconditionally? When will you (those that have emailed and called) realise that your fears are what holds you back. Your fear to speak out against things which are unfair/unjust is what inhibits your growth from a business and personal perspective. If there is one thing that I have learnt is that you should stay true to yourself. People may not appreciate hearing the truth or being told it but once they are able to get over their egos or insecurities they will hopefully value your honesty. The price you pay for speaking your mind might be a few noses out of joint but in the end its worth having your integrity intact.

The sound of silence comes with a price tag attached to it................one you can't really afford in life!

"What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm where harm is not.
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!" Wordsworth

I am a bit tired with all the this fashion freedom fighter writing so I am going lighter on the next blog! This does not stop any of you suggesting other contentious topics up for discussion.............................

Wednesday, September 10, 2008



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

THE VELVET MAFIA.............

I received an interesting email from someone (who did not want to be named buts lets just call her JB) this morning which really made my spine tingle.......well ok it just got me thinking! JB asked me if I ever felt that there was some kind of society/fraternity/sect that watches the fashion industry from the sidelines and tries to control the way forward.........
For a second I let out a giggle but then stopped to think about this a bit more and realised that actually we do have a bit of 'organised crime' in the industry not quite the velvet mafia as they certainly lack the requisite appreciation of good taste and the savvy of just being downright fashionable in every sense of the word........

I sat back thinking of the fashion mags and their editors.......now here's something interesting. Ever notice how much air kissing is done at shows when fashion editors are around. Designers go into a state of pre-orgasmic abandon (mostly faking it!) in the hope that the wannabe Anna Wintours of this world feature their garments in their next fashion spread. Off course this is called 'relationship building' but ever wonder why some designers are just not featured? Probably because they don't kiss butt that well or they don't necessarily think that they have to bow down in reverence to these demi-gods? A designer colleague tells me a story of how he has been excluded from a certain magazine (considered to be the bastion in style in SA) because he does not see eye to eye with the editor (neither do I but then again I was never much for supporting magazines with poor circulations figures!). Were this designer to be advertising in this magazine it would be interesting to see just how much his butt would be kissed. Internationally its about who gets more bang for their buck...i.e the more you advertise the more you are the darling of the magazine and the more your clothes are featured in editorials. In SA I can count on one hand the number of editors that are actively communicative with designers and take the time to visit their studios to view merchandise.......Conde Nast, Associated Magazines (only Cosmpolitan really) and some titles at Media 24 being the most diligent in my experience. What happens to the rest?

Only recently did we have magazines feature editorial from black designers across the board. Scarily their names continue to be incorrectly spelt........go figure. With all the talk of cheap imports it is also interesting to note just how many magazines feature stores that stock this type of merchandise...........

The other part of the velvet mafia is made up of fashion council members - an interesting mix of people - some designers, academics, factory owners, media personalities, government type officials and an interesting foreigner or two thrown in for good measure. Now the good Lord should forbid that you disagree or have an opinion other then the council.(leave alone implement something that they have hair splitting meetings about over and over again ). They talk openly about transparency but remain as about as transparent as a nun's habit. All tasked with developing the industry and hell bent on showing how much they have done for the industry. If throwing millions at a fashion week is developing the industry, including selecting the designers for inclusion in the line-up then one must ask how democratic this is...........or how fair it is in plain terms? I think it is incredibly short sighted (couldn't resist) for this Oracle of Delphi to sit back and think it has all the answers to the future of the industry. I certainly don't but there are definately a few more people out there with less hidden agendas. Even if there are those who sit on this council who can make a difference I often wonder if they have the voice to do so. I do hope that at some point they realise they will have to justify their actions/decisions and that sooner or later people will demand this. After all let's also just remind ourselves its taxpayer's money that keeps this lot sitting in the front rows.

The last crowd can't really be considered important enough to be part of the velvet mafia but they do warrant mention as they do in fact put in the most effort........fashion week organisers. Now here's an interesting lot. They are divided into 2 camps and have different perspectives on who 'owns' fashion in SA. They do try hard but they have also learnt that designers don't always fall for their dangling carrots and will easily change platforms on a mere whim or for the right price. Its common knowledge that designers have been lured under the guise of being 'sponsored' to show at various fashion weeks. Suddenly just thought of that Tina Turner song 'Private Dancer'............
Anyway this lot need cash to stage events so they end up having to smile through clenched teeth and listening to sponsors/councils/provincial government/imbeciles and adhering to all the conditions....yep chances are they don't have as much control as they should have and they are relegated to being fashionable ambulance chasers.......trying to lure designers to show on their platforms. Money does talk hence the bull**** on the catwalk........

So I suppose the velvet mafia does exist in a way but its really about what importance you associate to them. I mean really would you take them seriously...................you don't really take Robert Mugabe seriously but what he has inflicted on Zimbabwe is serious enough.........so its kind of like that JB!


Not sure how this is going to go down but I suppose I have done this a few times before and more then anything found it cathartic in the extreme........alternatively I pissed off a few people oh and I think made some good friends out of it. So if you are wondering if this is an attempt at giving you my opinion on fashion, posting pictures of badly dressed people or snappy dressers or just a platform to share my opinion.........well you darn right!

As opposed to many other PC blogs I hope this does not deteriorate to a dreary expose of Long St in Cape Town, exalting badly designed (or made) product or even worse a saccharine coated showcase of the mundane and mediocre.
Having said all of this please don't feel obliged to follow this blog nor think it's a panacea to fashion in SA or your personal wardrobe crisis........I hope it evolves into something more then just hemlines for the season..........

So lets get started...........
I think that this blog will feature things that interest me as a designer and hopefully will give you some insight into what makes me do the things I do, say the things I say and the myriad of things that inspire me. Yeah as I said you don't have to read on.........you might do better and start your own blog!!!!!
Oh and do feel free to comment after all I like healthy discussion and debate........

Let's start with fashion since I am a designer and its something that consumes most of day........
Post fashion week malaise has set in for many designers in SA and whilst some of us are riding the success of our shows I can't help feeling sorry for those that are sitting back wondering ...'What now...?' This season was possibly the weakest line-up we have had in years ....and we all sit back and ask ourselves why? Well it would seem there are numerous reasons for this:
  • Fashion Week organisers are bound by sponsors to include young designers
  • Be overtly politically correct. Lord forbid they (orgainsers/selection committes/fashion councils or any other wannabe owners of fashion) should not be seen to be supporting crafters or unknown brands fresh out of fashion school
Off course most of you would know that I have already been attacked for being 'arrogant' and misquoted as not being supportive of young designers. Quite the opposite I would say as I am all for supporting young designers and giving them a break but I am also all for making sure that they are well equipped to sustain the hype of showing at a fashion week and they have a life after fashion week. Its not easy producing a collection...........its harder to make sure that you have all the elements to make for a commercially viable collection and beyond your wildest dreams to expect that your first collection will be a sell out and that it will cover the costs of manufacturing your garments for the show. I wonder how many of those designers will be mentored and assisted in transforming their creativity into businesses that are successful and sustainable.......

Who will be there when things unravel? The sponsors that sponsor a fashion week? The organisers? No one wants any fledgling business to fail but what are the chances that these young brands will survive without the continuous support. Are we allowing designers to show under the banner of development in the industry? What are the criteria for designers showing on a fashion week?

Just in case anyone feels that I have no idea of what its like to first enter the industry let me remind you that I burnt my fingers a million times over and slogged for seven years before I was able to create a sustainable business. I was crazy enough to believe those many years ago that creative talent was the only thing that was needed and doing fashion shows were the ultimate solution in establishing my brand.......how wrong I was.

The purpose of a fashion week is to grow an industry and create new markets for designers. If designers are allowed to show collections with badly manufactured garments then what precedent are we setting? Are we saying that its ok...........what does it do for the overall image of the industry? Badly set in sleeves, hideous fabrication and down right bad quality is unacceptable. It's time that we stopped feeling sorry and set standards in this industry. What of the poor designers who actually are being used as vehicles to access funding for these events? What of designers that are being funded to produce collections (and bad one's at that!) for these events? What about other suitably qualified and experienced designers......... Let's not go down that road of trying to teach a man to fish.......................

For those wanting to read more on this debate/discussion read Jacquie Myburgh's opinion piece.