JOHANNESBURG — The South African capital of Pretoria is not exactly considered a fashion hot spot, but Precious Moloi-Motsepe, chairwoman of African Fashion International, or AFI, organizers of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa, or MBFWA, believed that it was time for the city to shine.
“There are a lot of fashion-conscious people living in Pretoria,” she said, “and that’s why it made sense to hold MBFWA there. In fact, more designers should start opening stores in Pretoria. So far, we only have Malcolm Kluk and Christiaan Gabriel du Toit.”
The duo, who won this year’s Designers of the Year award presented at MBFW Africa, opened their Pretoria boutique earlier this year. Still, Pretoria was admittedly a schlep for many people, designers and the media included, who were mostly based in Johannesburg, and organizers of the various fashion shows were scrambling to arrange transport for guests to and from the Tshwane City Hall venue. Mozambican designer Taibo Bacar, last year’s Designer of the Year winner, was unfazed by the distance. “I like to think Maputo is just next door, so the 45-minute drive to Pretoria is a breeze for me.”
Apart from showing his solo collection, Bacar was also one of 14 fashion and accessories designers from all over Africa invited to take part in the Samsung AmazeAfrica showcase, a collaboration that paired established and emerging designers to create looks inspired by technology.
Pointing out Samsung’s growing relationship with fashion, Thabiet Allie, head of Content and Services for Samsung Electronics Africa, said the technology giant “now has the opportunity to create a conversation through fashion.”
The resulting conversation was certainly creative and dynamic. New York-based milliner Albertus Swanepoel was all set to work with Duro Olowu, “which would have been fantastic,” until the London-based designer apparently pulled out. Swanepoel was nevertheless pleased to work with South African designer Jacques van der Watt of Black Coffee. Katherine-Mary Pichulik, an up-and-coming accessories designer, was paired with Bacar. “Basically, we were given the challenge of creating an accessory or holder for the notebook. I’ve done a range of four different pieces, each one inspired by the cycad, a plant indigenous to Africa. So we looked at the texture, the color, the material, the line…and Taibo incorporated that into elegant dresses, while I worked on the production of accessories to go with that,” said Swanepoel.
Bacar described his clothes as “always simple, clean, classic, very elegant and very commercial. The cycad was my inspiration. I take the colors of the plant and the cut, that’s why I used green and made a lot of cuts and pleats in the design, like the plant.”
Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud, who is based in her native Ivory Coast and France, designs the men’s wear line LaurenceAirline. She was paired with Cape Town-based accessories label Missibaba, whose signature is hand-worked leather. Chauvin-Buthaud’s men’s wear, which she says does well in Copenhagen and Sweden, has been lauded for its crisp, clean lines, and clever use of tribal African prints as geometric detail.
“I am between Africa and Europe,” she said, “but my roots are always here. In terms of my design, I always do the connection between my African roots and something of the future, of France. Like I am a mix, I do a mix.”
For the AmazeAfrica showcase, the pair were assigned herpetology as inspiration, and “it was a very good match, turtles and snakes,” said Chloe Townsend of Missibaba, who sent down laptop sleeves in woven leather to complement the LaurenceAirline men’s wear. “It took ages to do, as it involved quite precise cutting and hand-scaling all the edges to get the effects we wanted.”
The MBFW Africa Fashion Awards winner for Emerging Designer of the Year, Tanzanian-born and South Africa-based Anisa Mpungwe of Loin Cloth and Ashes, teamed up with Doreen Mashika of Tanzania, whose designs are in store at Eileen Fisher and Anthropologie as part of a special East African project. “It was pretty interesting to work together,” Mpungwe recounted, “because the deadline was so timed that everyone was rushing to get stuff done. It was also interesting because our inspiration was bees, wasps and ants. I am mostly an African prints designer, so working with different kinds of prints was a whole other world I discovered, like silks with a kind of sheen and texture to resemble a bee’s wings, for instance.”
Other designers participating in the showcase, part of Samsung’s global Accelerating Discoveries and Possibilities initiative, included Adèle Dejak and Rift Valley Leather of Kenya, Projecto Mental of Angola, 1982 by Nane Brenu of Ghana and Italy, as well as Marianne Fassler and Quamta of South Africa.
Alek Wek made a special appearance as one of the judges at the awards ceremony. Other awardees were Gavin Rajah for SA Tourism Designer of the Year, Anita Quansah for Accessories Designer of the Year, Grace Boi for Model of the Year, Zandile Blay for Fashion Communicator of the Year, and Jan Malan for Outstanding Contribution to African Fashion.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)