The prettiest people in Joburg celebrated the launch of the TWO and Mememe store in Parkhurst last night. The venture is a collaboration between Milisuthando Bongela (Pulchritude), Doreen Southwood (Mememe Cape Town) and Caren and Gina Waldman – the duo behind successful ready-to-wear label TWO.
The gorgeous store displays the essence of each brand – the dusty pink walls and vintage touch at TWO balances the slick, retro feel of Mememe. The stock on offer is equally impressive. Luxury basics and sumptuous knits at TWO and silk tees, cotton tea dresses and vintage purses at Mememe had me to ready to spend spend spend!
Here’s wishing the lovely ladies at TWO and Mememe happiness and success in their new venture.
The store opens to the public tomorrow so be sure to check it out.
Marc Jacobs will soon be joining the ranks of the youngest designers to be bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Council president Diane Von Furstenberg announced this on Wednesday in New York along with other nominees and honourees for this year’s industry awards. Other nominees include the Olsen twins in the womenswear category and Alexander Wang, who is nominated against Marc Jacobs and Jack McCollough(of Proenza Schouler) in the competitive womenswear designer category.
Lady Gaga’s unpredicatable style antics will be earning her the style icon of the year award.
Other honourees and nominees are as follows:
- Top menswear designer: Michael Bastian, Patrik Ervell and Simon Spurr
- Top accessories designer: Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler and Reed Krakoff
- CFDA special tribute: photographer Arthur Elgort
- Media award: Hilary Alexander of The (London) Telegraph
- Founders Award: Hal Rubenstein of InStyle magazine
- International Award: Phoebe Philo of Celine
I’ve been trying to understand why fashion seems to be in love with young, fresh faces like Blake Lively and Emma Watson. The two are literally bagging endorsement deals left-right-and-centre, let alone the magazine covers. Lively is the new face for Chanel bags and, as The Cut Blog Reports, Karl Lagerfeld and Michael Kors are her biggest fans.
“It’s the anti-bored, too-cool-for-school, locked in a club for months on end look that you see a lot of young actresses going for,” the designer is quoted as saying. “There’s something very optimistic about her. I think she’s the anti-downer, anti-sad.”
The same could be said for Emma Watson, who has now penned an endorsement deal with cosmetics company Lancome, and it makes me wonder if the recession might have something to do with this. Flux Trends notes the beginning of the female century and maybe optimism is part of that. And what better way to focus advertising than to have the “girl-next-door” as the face of a brand?
My wardrobe is stocked with predominantly South African labels- Craig Port, Silver Spoon, X&O, Vertigo, Darkie- and on a Durban trip a couple of years ago I was amazed by the interest that the Durbanites had in my clothes. “Where did you get this?” they would ask. I am relating this story because I find that there’s a notion that people don’t want to support South African fashion. This idea probably has a little merit to it, but my own experiences (including what I mention above) tell me that it is something we tend to blow out of proportion a bit. By now I am sure you are familiar with the story of Pulchritude, the initiative to make South African fashion accessible, by blogger Milisuthando Bongela. She took to the markets of Johannesburg late last year with a number of proudly South African labels and through what I’ve personally witnessed the initiative is a resounding success. For me it clearly demonstrates that maybe, just maybe, the idea of South Africans not supporting local fashion is somewhat discredited.
Last night as I sat at a conference convened by African Fashion International and a number of other partners to discuss a way forward for fashion that goes beyond fashion week to look at the commercial aspect of the industry I became a little frustrated by the perpetual reference to this idea. A number of issues were raised- the quality of South African fashion being one of them. Yes, this is a debate to be had but I was disappointed by how it was contextualized in a global fashion domination sense. To put my point across quite simply I think we are breeding a baby that we are forcing to stomach meat even before it grows any teeth.
I agree that, yes, we need to have a global outlook. We do need to get designers to set high standards for their product to compete with the likes of Gucci or Marc Jacobs. But again, the baby has no teeth, why must she eat meat? We are far too concerned with trying to find ways to penetrate a global market that is dominated by decades old brands without addressing the needs of our own market. Small a market as South Africa is, I find no sense in saying let’s go conquer Europe when we aren’t even at a point where Miss Jones sitting in Port Elizabeth or Bloem does not have the opportunity to buy the South African product without having to drive to Johannesburg or Cape Town or call a designer to place an order. The convenience of shopping plays a huge role, in my opinion, in what ends up in our closets. Secondly, inflated prices of South African fashion do us no favours. Designers ought to have an understanding of the market within which they operate. They need to stop neglecting the ordinary chunk of South Africans who don’t own Gucci suits simply because they don’t have the disposable income that affords them that luxury. Why is this South African not being viewed as a potential customer? Why is fashion not being made accessible to this customer? How do we go about doing so?
I truly believe we are getting ahead of ourselves. The industry needs to cash in. We have not fully exploited the South African market. Coveting the international stage is a hang up that we need to get over. It’s a long term ideal that cannot be realized without addressing the short-term.
The chair of African Fashion International (AFI) bragged at the launch of this year’s event that publicity their collective events have garnered goes into the hundreds of millions in rands. I’m almost positive that Joburg Fashion Week, which has just wrapped after five days in the city of Johannesburg, took that sum even much higher. The coverage is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Everyone was on it. This was probably due to the fact that it was being held in the inner city, which I’ve heard people say is a new idea. It is not. African Fashion International’s rival SA Fashion Week did it a couple of years ago. They also hosted their event at the Arts on Main development in town in October last year.
The peak of this year’s Joburg Fashion Week was set to be the Nelson Mandela Bridge showcase by designer David Tlale and with all the media it attracted the show ended up receiving lukewarm reviews from observers who were gatvol of waiting for the two hours late show, where lighting was not up to par. Many journalists complained that they could not see the garments properly. I did, and I can tell you that David done did it again. Fashion is a very subjective thing but there’s one thing that is universally accepted; the successful execution of a concept almost always equals a successful show. Never mind your personal preferences in cut, print, etc.
With Tlale I honestly saw the “Made in the City” theme coming alive in subtle hints to African traditional garb, the Victorian gowns that illustrate history and a general modern aesthetic. Although a lot was overdramatized, such is the challenge for fashion observers in dissecting Tlale; his designs are not for sissies! And I mean that literally too. It will take a man with guts to wear that chiffon shirt with a plunging neckline and I’d like to think I am that guy.
Speaking of concepts; earlier on in the week was the Fasttrack event, where young fashion graduates exhibited their work in an event that I felt put more emphasis on the festivities (hip-hop performances and the like) to the detriment of those showcasing. The desire to watch and analyse the fashion was just overwhelmed and drowned by the party mood. We know it is fashion week and we all love a little “fun” element to work, but at the end of the day, these designers were there to showcase their work, journalists were there to watch, review and hopefully get these designers noticed. A little seriousness with the platform on which they were to present their collections would have gone a long way.
I was also impressed with menswear designer Nkululeko Msibi and would like to watch him grow within this industry. He understands what men want to wear and I‘d like to see him refining his craft.
Suzaan Heyns, Heni and Stiaan Louw also came through strongly with the latter exploring a contemporary African aesthetic. The use of light textiles was for me a nod to the very real fact that South Africa’s winter climate hardly warrants layers and layers of faux fur, which many designers had in their collections. It is fashion and we love it, but some things are just unnecessary and depicting what does not fit within the market you are targeting is nothing short of pointless.
There are many designers I could mention and it could take the whole day, but in summing up the whole week I’d have to say a lot of the new labels are impressive- Avant and Lisp mostly rocked- and some of the old designers need to catch a wake up, move with the times or risk becoming irrelevant. Bongiwe Walaza needs to ditch the seshweshwe and start playing with other textiles in trying to express Afrocentricity and Erroll Arendz needs to step out of his confort zone. The older consumer he targets will not live forever.
In this regard Abigail Betz’s exploration of darker colours and checkered fabrics is most welcome.
David Tlale’s late grand entrances on the other hand will hopefully evolve into more timely, nonetheless spectacular sightings.
The much anticipated Joburg Fashion Week, with all the promises of an inner city spectacular, begins tonight with a showcase by Fashion School Graduates. The first day event, known as Fastrack, takes place at the long-awaited Fashion Kapitol in the city’s “fashion district”. The Frock Report will be there, ready to share with you the goings-on between air-kisses, front row hissies and catwalk strutting.
The event’s move to the city centre has been a much publicised affair and with shows taking place at various venues throughout the city, one can only hope that the organisers and their sponsors (which include the City of Johannesburg and its tourism arm) are logistically prepared. What I cannot wait to see is how the Nelson mandela bridge will on Saturday turn into a fashion show venue. It is bound to be interesting and if news reports are anything to go by, the bridge as a venue will not be the only thing to look forward to as the event culminates in David Tlale’s 92 model show, paying tribute to our 92 year old former president Nelson Mandela. How befitting, then, that the show take places place on the bridge named after him.
Stay tuned to The Frock Report for daily updates!
Fashion publicists and designers in the US are questioning the “validity of blockbuster” shows, reports the New York Times. You might recall Tom Ford’s exclusive fashion show late last year where only 100 hand-picked fashion insiders and one photographer (Tom Ford’s own) were allowed to the show. Intimacy became the buzz word and it seems Mr. Ford may have inspired a revolution that will take fashion back to its heyday of “snobbery”.
Over the years, fashion had become more democratised with the advent of bloggers, for instance, and the streaming of live fashion show video by designers over the net. This year, publicists say, designers are questioning if “more is more” or if “less…” is indeed “more”. It is reported that there is a rush for smaller venues for this year’s New York Fashion Week.
“We like exposure,” says one publicist quoted in the New York Times article, “but we want a more controlled exposure.”
At the end of the day, one does need to question what sort of exposure they would like for their brand. In the digital age it may become hard for brands to control their own image (they are literally becoming like celebrities with a failed PR machine), but Tom Ford has definitely shown that it can be done!
Read the article here
The Council for Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has expressed disappoinment over Michelle Obama’s decision to wear an Alexander McQueen gown at a recent state dinner. The American First Lady been called “the pinnacle for designers” and concerns over her wearing of non-American designers has before been expressed by Oscar de la Renta in particular, say reports.
The Cut blog reports that Diane Von Furstenburg issued the following statement on behalf of the CFDA;
“CFDA believes in promoting American fashion. Our First Lady Michelle Obama has been wonderful at promoting our designers, so we were surprised and a little disappointed not to be represented for this major state dinner.”
I stood last night in the midst of fashionistas listening to Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe and other African Fashion International and Johannesburg city officials speaking passionately about Joburg Fashion Week’s program for 2011. The event takes place next month at various iconic venues throughout the city of Joburg. Moloi-Motsepe spoke of the desire, by her organisation and the local government, to position Johannesburg as the fashion capital of Africa. This is no news as those who are familiar with AFI will know that this is the same company that runs the annual Africa Fashion Week which will be held in Johannesburg for its third run in 2011.
I’m not going to bemoan the many fashion weeks that exist in South Africa, I think it’s an important debate to have, but I have- like many other fashion commentators, I’m sure - grown tired of it. It seems nothing will ever change in this regard. The debate itself is inspired by seeking to find ways of constructing the fashion calendar in a way that makes sense if our fashion industry is to grow. Fragmentation can surely not be a good thing for the growth, is it?
It is with much dismay that today I read on a Nigerian website (Bella Naija) that Arise Magazine, who withdrew their sponsorship of Africa Fashion Week last year, have decided to convene an Africa Fashion Week of their own in Lagos, Nigeria with a format that doesn’t actually differ from that of AFI’s; showcasing a plethora of African fashion talent under one roof. It boggles the mind why sponsorship was withdrawn if sponsoring a fashion week is still in the organisation’s interest as this move clearly illustrates.