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12 Model Pile Up

by Jason Basson / 27.07.2011

Cape Town Fashion Week Part 2

Two hours of sleep later and the day was already beginning. The bags under my eyes impeded my vision so much so that I even considered eye circumcision. Surprise, surprise, malnutrition was fast becoming a prominent feature of my life at fashion week. The daily menu usually consisted of chips, pie, gravy and some sort of creamy slop for dessert. To my constant amusement, the models ate everything. One even asked if this was traditional South African food. “It is when you’ve been drinking for 8 hours and you have nowhere to go but Engen or Saul’s Saloon”, I explained.

While we dreamed about food, we joked about models “dropping ass” on the runway, and about the shit-covered 12 model pile-up that would become the headline of the Weekend Argus. Sadly, no such thing occurred. Instead, Kimora Lee Simmons decided to stop by for a few shows. While the presence of an international celebrity designer was encouraging, it did nothing to help the audience focus on the fashion.

The line-up for the day included Lisp, Nucleus, Lalesso, Undacova, Dax Martin, Carducci and Dr Robert Rey, world famous cosmetic surgeon with his new range of lingerie called – wait for it – LingeRey. Lisp presented the audience with a feminine take on the music festival scene. While her designs usually reference the classic, glam and punk rock periods, this season she decided to go for a more contemporary version of Woodstock meets grunge. Her showstopper was a tulip dress with signature elements of distressed fabric and a giant ostrich feather headdress.

Nucleus played it safe with a wearable collection that could easily translate from daywear to nightwear according to accessories.

Lalesso took their trademark prints and silhouettes and transported them to the future with a few new surprise elements including luminous Perspex in the form of jewelry and chain-links on dresses.

Undacova created a rather uninspiring range of underwear. Some pieces took a nautical theme, but aside from that the most interesting part of the show was imagining the meat inside the packages. This was my favorite by far.

Dax Martin was surprisingly good. He focused heavily on print, drawing inspiration from volcanoes, coral and tropical rainforests. His collection was simple, sexy and interesting to look at.

Carducci was probably the best event of the day. With a comprehensive range of smart, casual and semi formal pieces, Carducci really hit the nail on the head. Their palette consisted mostly of baby tones, which would normally induce vomiting in me, but with concurrent themes of plaid and beautiful tailoring, everything came together to create an edgy but sophisticated take on smart wear. I also got a fancy bottle of Bon Cap from the show, so now I’m drunk.

Dr Rey was quite lame. Set at the Land Bank, the show came across as gimmicky and sexist. Big-breasted models were applauded when they took to the runway. It was quite an embarrassing moment for the men of this country. The collection itself wasn’t very groundbreaking in terms of lingerie, but I’m sure it will sell.

Altogether, the day was pretty average in terms of design. However, Carducci and Dax Martin were sensational. Other designers brought interesting elements to the table, but failed to produce a range that was complete.

Day 4: Established Designers

It was the last day. I felt a mixture of relief and sadness. I would finally have the chance to sleep again, but I wasn’t entirely ready to leave the fast-paced world of fashion. Thankfully, lunch included salad for once. I almost cried a thousand tears when I bit into an olive.

It started with the David Tlale show. 30 minutes prior, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, chairman of AFI discovered that her David Tlale pants were too long and needed a tailor to sort them out. Being the only two fashion designers on hand, my friend Lloyd Loots and I offered our assistance.

Her pants were fixed in the nick of time. Together with Dr Precious’ personal stylist Vittoria, we raced to the Bromwell in Woodstock where Mr. Tlale’s Salon show was to take place.

After running several red lights, my supervisor shat me out for almost missing the show. Clearly flustered and in no way ready to think about fashion, I decided to hit the free sparkling wine and canapés. Big mistake. The seafood risotto left me feeling quite ill.

The show itself was fantastic. Even though everything was completely un-wearable, his collection was aesthetically and conceptually very pleasing. Considering what a botch his last show was, this range was redeeming.

Drawing inspiration from the film Black Swan, his collection consisted of dark colours in tulle, mesh, satin and leather. He threw in a few heavily constructed pieces embellished with feathers, tassels, straps and chains that gave the collection a strong sense of S&M theme which he later tied in with hip corsets to give it a well rounded gothic romanticism.

Leigh Schubert showed next. Being the first time I had ever seen her work, I was instantly blown away. Her collection was simple and muted, but very effective. She played a lot with paneling, contrasting sheer and opaque fabrics to create silhouettes that were paradoxically hard and soft at the same time.

Danielle Margaux then presented a collection that was supposedly 50’s inspired. While some of her silhouettes clearly were, others seemed a little achronistic. Peacock feathers informed her choice of colour, and her range included everything from daywear to nightwear, smart and casual. On the whole, the collection was very impressive.

Thula Sindi, on the other hand, was all over the place. His collection was small and lacked a consistent storyline. His paisley skirts were quite remarkable, and I’m sure any woman would kill to own one. But generally Mr Sindi underperformed this time.

Fabiani was a good show. While nothing stood out as new or groundbreaking, their colour palette for this season was quite exciting. One of the models was an elderly black gentleman, and the crowds loved it. While I thought it was quite gimmicky, perhaps even a little wrong in terms of the ethnographic lens, I did think he was a great model.

Luckily, the next show for the day was the Nelson Mandela Foundation Retrospective. As the event was by invitation only, I was hoping to have some time off. Instead, I was put in charge as junior editor.

Two hours passed in a matter of seconds, and before I knew it was time to go see the last show: Stephania Morland.

There’s always a lot of pressure to perform when you show last at fashion week. From start to finish, Stephania was extraordinary. Every piece, from fabric choice to boning and beading was made from natural, found or recycled objects. Her show held a powerful message about responsible design and environmental conservation.

She offered a comprehensive range of clothing, all in her signature-deconstructed look that was very wearable and visually exciting. Some of the bolder pieces of her collection included a hoop skirt constructed using real hula-hoops and a bridal gown made using feathers, small tree branches and mosquito netting.

To top everything off, the model took centre stage to deliver a smashing performance of “Smells like Teen Spirit”, Tori Amos style. The message was clear: “Here we are now, entertain us. I feel stupid and contagious.”

High from the show and somewhat delirious from Fashion Week as a whole, I handed in my last catwalk report and skipped off to the after party. Contrary to popular belief, fashion after-parties are quite uninspiring. It’s not surprising considering that the only thing keeping anyone from falling over are the drugs.

After a few quiet drinks at the shack, it was time to go home and sleep.

*Read Part One here.

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