100 World Class South Africans: Albertus Swanepoel

2013-06-14 12:00

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Hatmaker extraordinaire

‘A hat is a dot on an i’ is the way Albertus Swanepoel describes his contribution to life’s costume drama.

While British milliners Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones are the go-to guys for royal weddings, Swanepoel is the fashion-industry favourite.

In 2007 it was beaver-felt cloches for Proenza Schouler; in 2008, tartan fedoras for Carolina Herrera; in 2009 spooky-kooky helmets for Narciso Rodriguez.

Tommy Hilfiger, Alexander Wang, DVF and Jason Wu have all enlisted him to produce statement millinery.

Swanepoel’s star hit the stratosphere after a second place in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition, leading to work for JCrew, Gap and US mega retailer Target.

It was no overnight success. Swanepoel started out creating custom clothes in Joburg.

Attempts to make it as a sportswear designer in New York were derailed by the 90s recession, so he turned to accessories.

He made gloves by day and studied hat-making by night, with former Balenciaga milliner Janine Galimard at FIT.

Today, Swanepoel’s snappy fedora is the most popular feather in his cap.

Each season fans await his latest take on the boy-girl classic.

He may call them dots; the rest of the world calls them exclamation marks.

An Albertus Swanepoel fedora! And this month he’s launching a clothing collection here – ‘South Africa has always been dear to my heart and a constant source of inspiration.’

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