South Africa’s fashion and art crowd descended upon Cape Town this week for the pre-opening party of contemporary art museum Zeitz MOCAA’s first fashion exhibition, “21 Years: Making Histories With South African Fashion Week.”
SA Fashion Week, founded by former model Lucilla Booyzen in 1997, marked the anniversary last October with a small exhibition shown during the presentation of the SAFW 2019 fall collections in the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton City. Booyzen chose 21 designers as a historical recap of the past 21 years of SA fashion, and planned a book to accompany the exhibit.
“When Erica de Greef, the senior fashion curator of Zeitz MOCAA, heard that I was going to do a book and an exhibition, she was incredibly excited, and she then planned to do an edited version of what I did in Johannesburg at Zeitz,” Booyzen recounted.
Curated by de Greef, the exhibition occupies two gallery spaces on the museum’s fourth level and features 21 ensembles from 21 designers, spanning different styles, multiple collections and various seasons, showcasing, in effect, a micro-history of South African fashion since 1997. On show are designers such as Clive Rundle, Amanda Laird Cherry and Loxion Kulca, alongside younger names such as Sindiso Khumalo, Thebe Magugu and Selfi.
The exhibition is the first comprehensive fashion exhibition presented by the museum, which launched just over a year ago. For Booyzen, “The fact that Zeitz MOCAA has recognized and acknowledged the designers and the road they have traveled in making a contribution to contemporary African fashion design is significant.” She hopes that the viewing public emerges from the show with “the understanding and realization that there is a healthy fashion design culture in South Africa, which is beginning to bear fruit.”
De Greef added that “museumgoers have the opportunity to view and appreciate the work of the fashion designers in the same way that they look at paintings or sculpture in the museum. This opportunity to look at the finishes, details, colors, and the creative imaginations of the designers will contribute to a greater public awareness of South African fashion, as well as develop respect for these designers.”
The exhibition runs until Jan. 7.