The drama of SA Fashion Week

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Held at the beautiful (and clearly incomplete) Shine Studios in Braamfontein, SAFW Summer 2011 collections showcased South African fashion against Johannesburg’s beautiful views. For 3 days – Friday to Sunday – media, friends of designers and SA fashion showed up to what I think was a relatively well curated range of collections.
I say relatively, because there were a few collections that were disappointing and uninspired, but this is all subjective and I am sure there is a market for those designer’s collections, I am just not it.

Before I get into my favourite shows, I really can’t help but comment on the current spat between Abigail Betz and Milisuthando Bongela. If you have no idea what I am on about – take a look at Mili’s blog post on her thoughts on SAFW, look at Abigail’s Twitter timeline and then read Betz’s official response to Mili’s post.
It is a pity that the cattiness of the entire exchange and that of Paledi and Betz on Twitter, has taken away from valid and disturbing points that all parties raise. Not to go into it too much, but Mili makes a somewhat valid point (maybe her choice of words weren’t appropriate) about the behaviour of a designer like Abigail Betz who is looked up to by many aspiring designers having a responsibility to the industry to add value to discussions regarding fashion in South Africa and to chose her words carefully.

This is totally my opinion, but when you are in that kind of influential position, you really do have a responsibility to respect the industry – so talking ill of the fashion week where you first showcased your work is not appropriate. I’m all for freedom of speech, but in an industry that is working towards becoming a valued part of the economy, support and respect to those trying to further the industry is important. Criticise constructively, but use tact. Have we not learnt from the Kuli Roberts saga?
In the same breath Ms Betz made some very valid points on model choices, and on unfinished collections. I myself saw pins on the runway, unfinished hemlines etc and really that should not happen under any circumstances.
Perhaps to me the thing that got me thinking the most was when Ms Betz compared the fashion weeks and AFI won hands down in her opinion. The thing is, if we were to write down a list of all the faults at both fashion weeks they would probably come out around the same. This is why we need to have one fashion week. How glorious would it be if SAFW and AFI brought their resources together to produce a week of carefully curated collections?
By default the designers showing would be the best, because there would be a limited number of spots and the production of everything would be slicker. Media and VIP rooms would be filled with the relevant people and the impact of one “must-see” “must be there” fashion week will be felt.

Anyways, that’s my 5-cent into the conversation, now on to my favourite shows:
Black Coffee and Lunar

On Friday night, Black Coffee showcased their first collection at SA Fashion Week in about three seasons. Sans Danica Lepen, Jacques van der Watt showcased a beautifully styled and conceptual collection.

The Lunar collection made me think of summer. Pretty feminine silhouettes for the girls and relaxed comfort for the boys, Karen’s collection was uncomplicated, wearable and covetable.


image via Ivan Naude


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