Johannesburg gets chic just right

Jan 30th, 2010 | By | Category: Student Work

By SHALWAH EVANS

JOHANNESBURG — As most of South Africa gets ready for the World Cup, a not so small group of followers got together and celebrated another form of arts and entertainment in Sandton City–fashion.  Joburg Fashion Week kicked off last Wednesday at the Sandton Convention Center, and the verdict is in—chictopia is the theme. Designers, stylists, guests and South African fashion elite—including Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, president of African Fashion International—packed into the convention center to talk fashion, business, the collections, and to show off their impeccably styled outfits.

A piece from Spero Villioti's couture collection

But while fashion was the foreground, designers were faced with the question of whether a booming African fashion industry could bolster a possible African textiles industry. While a tricky subject for many to explore, designers and fashion elite all agreed that developing a textiles industry is important for the growth of the continent.

South African designer Machere Pooe of House of Machere, whose collection packed an entire auditorium, stressed the importance of using traditional African textiles in her line. She explained that the inspiration from the current collection comes from the colors and traditional designs of evening dancers of the Tsonga tribe. One of the dresses uses Mocheka, a traditional Tsonga fabric with a graphic called “mother with baby on her back.”

“I’m South African.  I wanted my collection to represent who I am,” she said. “If I travel to New York I want to look like I’m from here. I don’t want to look like I’m from Atlanta. We’ve got so much culture, so much history in South Africa.”

House of Machere

The collection was a mix of fabrics and colors, with silhouettes that would flatter any woman’s figure, whether size 0 or size 22. It was sexy and classy, with a number of pieces that could be worn everywhere from work, to dinner, to a garden party with simply adding or taking away a jacket or sweater.

David Tlale, whose much anticipated autumn/winter collection that showed on Friday, talked about his evolution as a designer, and why his collections moved from more traditional textiles to rich fabrics from all over the world.  Incorporating leather and silks in his installation piece titled “Fantastical Structures,” the show left almost all guests ready to place orders.  As fashion week ended on Saturday January 23 designers like Vesselina Pentcheva, whose houndstooth and polka dot combinations strayed from the traditional South African textiles, but received several nods from fashionistas in house.  For many designers East meets West was the true sentiment of the event; being true to South African roots while creating clothes that are wearable anywhere.

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