/ 31 August 2007

Followers of fashion flock to Sandton

“This year’s fashion week will be different,” says Luke Radlott, an assistant designer for Black Coffee, talking about the 11th annual Sanlam South African Fashion Week that started on Wednesday. “For one, the backdrop and the ramp are black and in the previous years they were white.”

Also, “This time the designers didn’t try too hard for the whole ‘proudly South African’ thing. It came through naturally,” he says.

The yearly fashion spectacular runs until Saturday at Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre with a designer line-up that includes Craig Native, Bongiwe Walaza, Marion & Lindie, Lunar, Amanda Laird Cherry and the Holmes Brothers.

In addition to the collections, there is the South African Fashion Week exhibition featuring more than 120 labels, which is a must for trend-spotters.

With displays of clothing and accessories as well as other fashion-related exhibits ranging from shoes to handcrafted pieces, the exhibition includes a Department of Arts and Culture stand featuring fashion products designed by crafters from around the country in collaboration with the South African Fashion Week.

Also part of this year’s fashion week is the Arts and Culture Fashion Seminar, with daily presentations by fashion-industry leaders, including panel discussions and workshops to examine topical industry issues and challenges.

The South African Fashion Week puts on display the spring and summer 2007/08 collections of South African fashion veterans and some new talent in the industry. One such new talent is Katlego Kgare, who is one of the Elle New Talent Designers finalists. Kgare is an apprentice for South African fashion house Julian Couture, owned by Julian Smith.

Kgare told the Mail & Guardian Online on Wednesday that being part of the South African Fashion Week is the best thing that can happen to an up-and-coming designer. “I am so honoured to be part of it. It is a great opportunity and the sky is the limit from here onwards,” he said.

The Elle New Talent Designers competition is held on the first day of the South African Fashion Week. This year’s winner is Tiaan Nagel, head designer for Marion & Lindie. Nagel has a degree in fashion design from Lisof College.

Nagel told the M&G Online that the Elle New Talent Designers finalists’ ranges had to display an element of the given theme, which was The Future. “I realised that this theme is one that I could work with because I think that in order to go forward, you must takes a few steps back, so my range features a lot of going back,” he said.

Asked what winning this competition means to him, Nagel said it is an honour and it presents new opportunities. “I still work for Marion & Lindie, and winning this competition just means that I can debut my own range at next year’s South African fashion week,” he said, adding that he is very happy to have won the R50 000 cash prize.

“The money is great and I am especially happy that I also automatically debut into next year’s fashion week and that I won’t have to pay the registration fee, because it’s quite expensive.”

Designers say that the 2007/08 summer season’s must-haves are skinny jeans, bright colours and shorts.

The exhibition and seminar are open to the public and tickets are available from www.ticketconnection.co.za or at Mr Price stores