September saw SAFW’s AW17 offering and with the shows having come and gone, fashion writers are tapping away at their keyboards to share their thoughts on the event. Heres my quick two cents on the experience.
I haven’t attended an SAFW in a while- it’s pretty tough to keep up with South Africa’s numerous fashion weeks and a work schedule- so I was pretty keen to see the changes in this fashion week’s camp. A relatively new venue and ramp layout and a very different lineup to when I last attended had me thinking it would be fresh.
Starting with the shows themselves, I’ll be talking about the ones I felt had impact and I’ll try to leave out personal taste for objectivities sake. There were a lot of issues with fit and finishes in several collections, which is disappointing because a certain standard has to be upheld. This is not to say that the collections I mention below were the only ones exempt of problems, these were just my standouts for the season. There were a few production problems with shows, like extended pauses between walks and seating issues. Double booked tickets for some guests or others being moved to a seat with no view altogether for no apparent reason. I was witness a row of seated guest be moved after standby had been called, meaning those guests lost their view of outfits from the waist down. If the shorter rows put into place accommodate more people was superfluous enough to get rid of for one show, why have in earlier shows at all? Inconsistencies like this ranged from big to small without the 5 days of SAFW AW17.
There was also a dress code, which seems odd. If you’re not sure why it would go against the grain, people working in creative industries generally rebel in some form or another. A dress code at a fashion week is trying to control people who have chosen not to be controlled. As one savvy style photographer pointed out, fashion weeks have become known almost as much as for the runways as the style worn by show guests, limiting that seems a bit short-sighted. That being said, the #NoColour dress code does play into fashion’s current minimalism obsession, so a lot of people weren’t affected because they don’t wear colour anyway. And if you were in colour, the only recourse was the organiser’s photographers asking you to shift out of shot in their social snaps. Funnily enough, #NoColour also dominated runways with more than a few designers picking up on an internationally trending monotonal colour palette.
Back to the reason (most) people went along, the clothing at shows. Personally, installations rocked this SAFW AW17 for me. Black Coffee had an in-store walk through at their 44 Stanley location followed by an other-worldly performance by the Ribane’s. It may have blown up your social media feeds because the Ribane’s were EVERYTHING. It was a striking way to showcase the archetype Black Coffee silhouettes and detailing. On the menswear side of things, Roman Handt presented a transgressive all-white collection on masked models standing on platforms- shoes that is, not raised podiums. The effect was dehumanising, viewers circled and posed next to the models without any mutual interaction, turning them into high fashion sculptures.
Lumin won the Sunglass Hut New Talent Search with a monotonal black collection, focusing on texture. Individually pieces could be easily incorporated into wardrobes but for the runway they were put together with impact. I’m rather taken with the contrast in accessories, minimal hardware against painted black rocks provided organic shape. Morphe also impressed me for styling reasons, a diaphanous metallic thread ran through the capsule’s most successful looks with an update to eighties romanticism.
Clive Rundle’s showcasing was full of the designer’s tropes, but the only South African designer to have ever been approached by The Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode still keeps his shows topical while retaining his aesthetic. My favourite moments were caplets slung over ladylike tailoring in leather and abstract painterly prints on silk paired with urban lace boots. The colour palette for this whimsical nod to 90’s grunge, also set the collection apart by going against international trends- which is something we didn’t see a lot of this season.