Fashion month had come to a close. After living vicariously through fashion bloggers, models and fashion designers on social media in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, we finally got some fashion of our own at the African Fashion International (AFI) Fashion week held in Johannesburg from the 4th - 7th October 2018.
The streets of Melrose Arch, where it was held this year, were buzzing with fashion bloggers and fashionistas trying to find their “good light”, models sipping on iced coffees, celebs, media, cameras, makeup artists, hair stylists - everything you might expect to see at an international fashion show - but with our own distinct yet dynamic South African flavour, or “Africanacity” as some might want us to call it - wink.
The shows were attended by some of SA’s favourite celebrities and socialites, including Nomzamo Mbatha, Lalla Hirayama, Siyabonga Ngwaekazi and Musa Ngema to name a few. Not only were they in the front row but Nomzamo Mbatha walked on the runway for Ri.Ch factory and Dineo Moeketsi!
The first show we got the opportunity to see was the Tshwane University of Technology Fashion Show. Each third year student sent out two looks and an array of styles came down the runway: feminine flowy and white, strong and masculine, casual and athletic and even a boldly androgynous collection that seemed to have stepped straight out of the future. The distinctness of each student’s “collection” emphasised the dynamic nature of fashion. Designer and TUT lecturer, Eric Mkhabela feels he is “inspired” and “kept up to date” by his students, and it is no surprise that accomplished South African designers are a product of this fashion school. These looks told us that the South African fashion industry is constantly growing and in a direction that excited us.
A product of TUT, and accomplished bridal gown and couture designer Neville Masondo’s collection of looks came next in his “La Art Neviole Emporium” show. Driven by the attention to detail required to create bridal couture, Neville’s looks were beaded and “feathered” to perfection. His final show stopping look was a larger than life wedding gown, with a train and veil that were royal wedding worthy.
La Art Neviole Emporium finale dress for bridal collection
Pietro Gianuzzi’s collection for Presidential brought us world class, quality workmanship with distinctly South African inspiration and execution. The decadent menswear looks were made with South African hand painted fabrics and seemed to combine luxury and opulence with an authentic South African character. Gianuzzi said backstage that he “finds it almost natural” to mix his Italian heritage with South African cultural inspiration when designing, and these two seemed to harmonise flawlessly on the runway.
Designer Pietro Gianuzzi walks a model, Loren Jenneker wearing Finale dress of Presidential collection.
Despite being a tough and competitive industry - show after show - fresh ideas, accomplished young designers, high quality workmanship and new takes on what “South African” fashion should look like, predominated.
One such example was Siphosihle Masango’s collection for David Tlale’s Café show, entitled “African Wealth”. Masango told us “Diamonds are from Africa”. Why can’t South African fashion be rich with the diamonds and gold “that we harvest in our back yard”? AFI Fashion week reminded us that indeed it is.