SA Fashion Week came of age this season – celebrating 21 years of showcasing local talent– here's what stood out
Words: Daniël Geldenhuys | Photography: Eunice Driver for SAFW
SA Fashion Week came of age this season, celebrating 21 years of showcasing local talent. The Autumn Winter 2019 collections, diverse and eclectic as ever, feel relevant for right now. These are the top five messages we're hearing loud and clear.
There's new talent
The world of fashion truly is fast-paced. If you're still thinking of names like Rich Mnisi and Thebe Magugu as part of the 'young designer' category, your thinking is outdated. They're at the top of their game, and new talent comes in the form of Cindy Mfabe who won the SAFW New Talent search. (Judges include the iconic Kwena Baloyi and our very own head of design, David West). Cindy's collection flirted with the experimental in the way she tied off a wrap dress, with a bold shoulder constructed from fabric that alluded to an off-cut repurposed as an aesthetically pleasing symbol of sustainability. Overall, wearability was the core value of the collection – she's one to watch.
The statement skirt is a must
Designers are having fun with the skirt, rendering it a living ornamental trophy piece. Printed, pleated, folded, asymmetric, or a little piece of each, there are no rules and the possibilities are endless. This is about gravitating towards something that makes your heart beat faster.
Tracksuits are (still) it
The best menswear collections had a strong sporting sensibility. The best looks from those were iterations of the tracksuit: relaxed yet mindful, at once modern and retro, and universally appealing. It's a smart bet for designers.
Streetwear moves away from gender
Streetwear, arguably the strongest category in local design because of both quality and accessibility, is becoming even more inclusive by moving away from gender. New kids on the block, The Watermelon Social Club and Art Club and Friends, showed strong, refined collections with pieces designed with gender as an afterthought.
Luxury is Frankenstein Dressing
The most intelligent runway moments saw the likes of Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu and Mmusomaxwell subvert traditional ideas of feminine elegance. Unconventional construction and styling, call it Frankenstein Dressing, came off as luxurious, modern and desirable. Even more impressive is the way these looks combine global and local design codes in exciting ways. These are the designers rebuilding the visual narrative around 'African' dressing, and luxury and that.