Fashion weeks — a showcase of multiple designers’ looks for upcoming seasons — are always overwhelming. One can’t help but expect some variety, diversity and contrasting collections. SA Fashion Week (SAFW) at the Mall of Africa was no different. The three-day event involved several runway shows, a men's wear competition and the Ponti della Moda Fashion Bridges installation. The movement towards circular fashion was highlighted by the autumn/winter 2022 collections. It was “evident throughout all the collections, be it the new seasonal ranges by established designers or the entries for our New Talent or Scouting Menswear competitions, with feature principles such as waste reduction, low-impact materials, longevity and recyclability as well as a greater emphasis on higher quality and timeless design,” said director Lucilla Booyzen.
Michael Read (foreground) of Xavier Sadan’s and Domenico Orefice’s joint-installation
Fashion Bridges — I Ponti Della Moda — is a collaboration between SAFW, the Italian embassy, Polimoda in Florence and the Milan Fashion Week, and supported by textile company Da Gama, Wool SA, Cotton SA and Mohair SA. South African and Italian designers developed joint-collections together which were first showcased at the Milan Fashion Week and then at SAFW A/W22.
The winner of the Scouting Menswear competition, VANKLAN’s Alexandra van Heerden, challenges societal norms, with glee, through her use of items deemed not fashion-worthy. Van Heerden said, “I think men's wear, in terms of sustainability, needs to be broadened, which is what my use of artificial flowers represents. If you deplete natural resources you will be forced to use synthetics, which is incomparable to the natural product.”
Artho Eksteen’s namesake brand was inspired by surrealism and fauvism for this collection. The maximalist pieces contest the conventional norms of men's wear with over-the-top details and a deconstruction of traditional silhouettes, creating the whimsical and eccentric. “Most of [the collection] used traditional textiles, such as silk and linen, utilising refined classic things in an unconventional and offbeat way,” said Eksteen.
Amanda Laird Cherry
Fashion heavyweight Amanda Laird Cherry emphasised the flaws of garments within their masterclass of layering, showing the fragility within form and function in line with the Japanese art of Sashiko. Upcycled garments were dismantled into completely new textiles or remained a semblance of their previous life to create a secondary element of drapery, overdyed to fuse the clothes into a homogeneous piece.
Thulani Vuyo Mlambo, the founder of men's wear runner-up Saint Vuyo, says he was inspired by “questioning gender norms and the structures that society anchors itself on.” Titling his first men's wear collection ‘Boytjie,’ Mlambo reflected on masculinity and his experiences of bullying.
Contemporary minimalism, clean lines and a gorgeous attention to layering textures defined Thabo Kopele’s autumn/winter collection. The young designer, 2020’s men's wear runner-up, has showed incredible growth and maturity in his unisex designs, which were equally tailored and fluid.
ERRE redefined power dressing with versatile, size inclusive and strong silhouettes. Their collection showed the complementary and contradictory nature of natural and manufactured colours and textiles. ERRE mixed seasons in this resort-wear collection. The design, compositions and drapery of the collection exuded power and fluidity. “With movement, it is how you define how people interact with you if you take up space, our message is: stop trying to look skinny and disappear into the background, take up space and take up volume. That’s how you renegotiate how people interact with you,” said designers Carina Louw and Natasha Jaume.
Jacques Bam of the BAM Collective played with the theatre of the absurd for a bold and theatrical collection. As a designer in Fashion Bridges Installation, Bam’s runway show took his designs and collection to a more exciting level. “It is a celebration of being bold and taking risks. After the lockdowns of pandemic, I really needed to go back to the experimentation of my past. I used specialised fabrics, bead work and feathers alongside my more commercial pieces. I wanted to create a collection that can be casual, can be very evening — a collection that can be worn in many ways.”
The show, featuring 29 designers, is available to stream from the SAFW YouTube channel. The SAFW Pop Up will be in the Mall of Africa from December 3-5 to allow discerning fashion consumers to interact with and buy directly from the designers.