Constitution Hill, Nelson Mandela Bridge and The Bus Factory, along with other Joburg landmarks, will be transformed into fashion havens for one stylish week in February.
Fully equipped with uniquely assembled catwalks, they will be the unusual venues for Joburg Fashion Week (JFW) shows. The week runs from 15 to 19 February, when leading and upcoming local designers will show their autumn/winter collections.
Officially launched on 18 January at a glitzy, star-studded soirée at Randlords in Braamfontein, JFW introduced its restructuring for 2011. In its new form, the fashion extravaganza will not only promote leading and new generation clothing design, but will also inspire consumers to get excited about the city.
According to the chairperson of AFI, Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the inner city will be infused with fashion.
Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the chairperson of African Fashion International (AFI), owners of the fashion week, noted that over the past five years, countless jobs had been created, business developments made and about R100-million spent on the AFI marketing events. There had also been 3,5 million hits on its website each year.
AFI was a catalyst that provided a platform for designers to move abroad, showcasing their collections, and would now be used to develop new up and coming talent, she added.
“This year, we have looked to the city for inspiration and our selected designers will showcase their autumn / winter 2011 collections in iconic heritage venues throughout the city, from the Bus Factory in Newtown to Constitution Hill.
“Inner city Johannesburg will be infused with fashion fever.”
The AFI’s managing director, Paul Leisegang, said that for decades, leading nations had looked to Africa for inspiration – from its people to its traditions, from design to sport. AFI strongly believed in “packaging” local design talent in an inspiring way that was made easily accessible to the international market, to stakeholders who “can make the meaningful connection between our talent and the endless opportunities that exist through globalisation”.
He said JFW was a celebration of local culture, while bringing homage to the streets.
It is being sponsored for the first time by the City of Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and the Johannesburg Tourism Company. The AFI would promote the city as a fashion capital, as it echoed Joburg’s reputation as a magnet for talent, new ideas and artistic excellence, said the organisers.
Joburg was the intersection of African and global trade and was rated one of 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world, said the AFI. It was the financial and commercial nerve of Africa and with its fusion of cultures it was the country’s trendsetter.
Designers taking part in JFW include:
- Suzaan Heyns, a Joburg label that pushes the boundaries in ready-to-wear fashion, appealing to strong-willed women;
- Errol Arendz, whose luxury fashion brands, DuSud and EA Ready to Wear, have a sleek and glamorous feel with delicate military touches;
- KlûkCGDT, a label that represents the merging of two designers dedicated to each garment with careful attention to detail;
- LISP, which is about living out rock and roll, with an autumn / winter collection drawing inspiration from the late 1960s and early 1970s;
- Wild Fig, a woman’s clothing label that makes the wearer feel feminine and beautiful;
- Spero Villioti, who for the past 25 years has been viewed as the leading haute couture label in Joburg;
- Abigail Betz, winner of the Best Couture Collection award, whose designs are characterised by femininity and romance;
- Karabo Finger, a specialty fashion brand focusing on women’s career, cocktail and lifestyle wear;
- Distinctive Wear, which creates clothes for sophisticated men;
- Avant for Gaschette, which notes that “inspiration from Joburg comes mainly from what is taken in visually and experiences on a sensory level on a day-to-day basis”;
- Grapevine, a new Joburg label;
- Bongiwe Walaza, who uses African prints strongly in her garments;
- Stiaan Louw, with his menswear;
- Thula Sindi, who designs clothing for elegant and mature women;
- Abigail Keats, whose signature style is best described as a sophisticated contemporary art form that plays with the paradox of masculine tailoring;
- Tart, which focuses on leisurewear;
- Loin Cloth and Ashes, which focuses on dresses for women who dare to be different;
- Heni, who won the Vodacom Durban July fashion challenge in 2007; and
- David Tlale, a home-grown label that stands out for its elegantly designed garments.
The best in fashion design will take part in Joburg Fashion Week. Four fashion
shows will also feature designers from the University of Johannesburg, the London
International School of Fashion, Tshwane University of Technology, Spero Villioti
and Sew Africa.
Participating graduate designers include: Kutloano Molokomme, Minette Meyer, Nadine Holloway, Melita Ngoasheng, Lebogang Moatshe, Sunette Scheepers, Jessica Sutherland, Pride Nkosi, Laura Kass, Nkulueko Msibi, Phumzile Langa, Anja Bredell, Nkosi Nkala, Chantelle Nascimento, Sello Medupe and Portia Moruthane.
In line with the new direction, fashion week has been extended to four days, with three shows a night. First up will be a graduate day, held at the Fashion Kapitol, which will be officially launched at the time. The entire day will be dedicated to “fast forwarding / tracking” design students’ careers through mentorships and knowledge exchange.
Foschini, the fashion chain, is also sponsoring the week. Leisegang said: “We are excited about our new partnership with Foschini. Our aim is to entertain, educate and inform, with the long-term objective of improving the pool of new designers in South Africa.”
The Fashion Kapitol, in the fashion district, features Joburg’s first public outdoor fashion ramp. It also has 30 shops, offices, studios, a restaurant, a small square, an amphitheatre and an arcade linking Pritchard and Market streets.
Other venues to be used during JFW include Randlords, the rooftop bar and lounge that has an awe-inspiring 360° view of the city; the Bus Factory, an old Newtown warehouse with its tall interior previously used to cater for double-decker buses that is now the JDA’s office space; the Rand Club, which is almost as old as Joburg, founded in 1887 and fully refurbished in 2005; the Johannesburg Art Gallery, which holds some of the most prized works in the world; and the Nelson Mandela Bridge, the largest cable-stayed bridge in the country, linking Braamfontein to Newtown.