“Exaggerated luxury” is not a phrase you hear very often. But it’s what the dynamic design duo popularly known as Quiteria and George is known for. Think beautiful, larger-than-life gowns that float down the runway; spools of fabric intricately constructed not only to bring flat material to life, but also to capture the curves and attitude of enduring femininity.
“It’s for women who are really comfortable in their own skin. She’s a woman that loves that extra beautiful something that compliments her attitude in life,” says George Malelu, one part of the design team that is taking luxury African fashion to new heights with made-to-order pieces.
So, what makes the pair so successful in such a competitive local market? A strong connection and a powerful dynamic. “We met in 2009 at Mpumalanga Fashion Week. I remember how connected we were, spiritually. We became friends and that was Quiteria and George,” Malelu says.
“I think the dynamic between us works, because I know he can be soft and I know I can be hard, and he can make things a little bolder,” Quiteria Kekana says. “We are able to create a balance of the two worlds, the George and the Quiteria,” Malelu continues.
The pair has five years in the industry to their names, and a new chapter is opening for them. The slate has been wiped clean — which in the digital era means that all their Instagram posts have been deleted, and a countdown to a secretive yet highly anticipated launch has begun.
It’s us being in the international market and making sure that we take South African luxury there
“It’s the rebirth of Quiteria and George. We’re working on rebranding. It’s time for change. We want people to connect to our stories and understand the brand aesthetic and the story behind it,” Kekana says. “We’re separating ourselves from how everyone else is branding themselves because they are now doing what we did.”
Although they wouldn’t give away too much, this new journey of rebranding involves opening a standalone store, launching an e-commerce site, and moving in a direction that is authentically and solely theirs.
“For us, it’s always about trying to unpack how far and where we can go in terms of this fashion thing. It’s not about competing with anyone in South Africa, it’s just about us being in the international market and making sure that we take South African luxury there,” Kekana says.
The new Quiteria and George will also see them doing things a little bit differently at the next African Fashion International Fashion Week Joburg. Instead of a standard runway show, this time around, their designs will be presented in an installation in a gallery. “It’s going to be a story and more of a performance,” Kekana says.
QUITERIA & GEORGE RECOMMEND:
The last thing you bought and loved? My Balenciaga shopping bag. Even when it doesn’t work with my outfit, I make it work. — George.
Who is your style icon? Rihanna. — Quiteria and George.
The best style advice you’ve ever given or received? Stay true to yourself. — Quiteria and George.
Your favourite restaurant? L’Avenue in Paris. — Quiteria and George.
Favourite fragrance? Issey Miyake. — George; Tom Ford. — Quiteria.
Favourite city? Paris and Senegal. — Quiteria; New York. — George.
• From the September edition of Wanted 2018.