Talking points at SAFW 2015

Crafting fashion:  Garment adornment and accessories are produced in workshops at Black Coffee’s studio in Johannesburg. (Image courtesy of SDR Photo).

Crafting fashion: Garment adornment and accessories are produced in workshops at Black Coffee’s studio in Johannesburg. (Image courtesy of SDR Photo).

South African Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015 (SAFW) was a four-day fashion event, which took place at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg from March 19 – 22.

For me, a runway collection is conceptual, a sort-of moodboard and an effective means of painting a label’s picture of their DNA and direction for an upcoming season. It is meant to be a showcase not a shopping rail. I don’t see the point of spending night after night looking at clothing that you might find at a local retail outlet like Woolworths or Markhams.
That’s what previews are for.

Day 1 and Day 2 did not present particularly interesting or noteworthy collections but rather, told a strong retail fashion story than a high fashion one. Having said that, this is not an indictment on the designers who showcased this past weekend. It has been pointed out on numerous occasions that South African audiences and the general buying public do not often have many opportunities to wear over-the-top haute couture. So perhaps designers should be commended on appearing to be more in tune with the needs and demands of the local market.

Just looking through the image library on, it is clear that the designers who showed on Day 3 (which unfortunately I missed) delivered with strong fashion stories, inspired silhouettes and attention to detail.

Here are a few notable trends from the showcase:


Wake’s Pieter Burger and Carla Roos, winners of last year’s SA Fashion Week New Talent Search competition, presented a beautiful mixed prints story. The fabrics were a collection of varying repetitive monochromatic geometric prints with pops of orange playing out in long-sleeved bodysuits, cropped tops, layered dress coats worn with leggings in slightly different geometric prints and wide-legged pants.


We saw art and fashion colliding in international Resort Collections 2015 by Sportmax, Escada and Prabal Gurung but local label House of Olé took it to a new level with a more realistic interpretation of the trend. Splashes of paint added striking detail to PVC raincoats, the soles of shoes and skirts, as well as an apron worn under a black tuxedo paired with elegant gentlemen’s slippers.

Image courtesy of SDR Photo


Henriette Botha put the finishing touches on Lalesso’s vibrant and playful prints with handcrafted neon pastel-accented jewellery with tassels, stones, leather cords and brass chains on necklaces and bracelets.

Image courtesy of SDR Photo


Non European’s collection illuminated the runway with tops and tank dresses bearing glow-in-the-dark slogans such as “SONA: Shame of the Nation 2015”, “Parliament Becoming Useless”, “SA in the Dark” and “Can it Get Worse? – drawing attention to the country’s current affairs. Some might argue that fashion has nothing to do with politics but as society and rules and politics change, so clothing reflects that change (whether it’s functional or fashionable) from women’s liberation to the industrial revolution and popular culture.

Image courtesy of SDR Photo


Black Coffee’s Fusion collection was a mix of African and Asian aesthetic. Especially noteworthy was the label’s collaboration, once again, with the crafters from Ekurhuleni culminating in bold headgear showing intricate wire work, woven ribbon work, creating striking geometric and linear patterning finished with tassels and pompoms.


The spotlight has been on Erre since the label’s organza floral leather dress was voted as one of the Most Beautiful Objects in South Africa (MBOISA) 2015. And sticking with their design handprint, black and leather were the dominant details in their collection of elegantly draped dresses – from above the knees to backless and off the shoulder, and some cinched at the waist with lazer-cut leather belts.

Zodwa Kumalo-Valentine

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