African Fashion International (AFI) Johannesburg Fashion Week offered many interesting moments this year, from Babalwa Mneno making a much-anticipated comeback to the runway to Miss SA Zozibini Tunzi capturing the room with her enchanting charm and grace.
Although many well-tailored explosions of colour and fabric caught much of the attention, five more understated looks took our breath away.
1 K Moraba & Collective
The collection as a whole was very subtle in how fabric was used, as well as being very sexy as it offered cheeky reveals of skin here and there, there was however, one particular look that drew our attention. Puffy bell sleeves are usually associated with soft fabrics but here we saw the designer adding an edginess and hard exterior to the look using studded leather that is contrasted by the softness of the lace pants. It will be interesting to see if this trend will find its way into mainstream fashion.
2 David Tlale
Tlale has forged himself as a master couturier for quite some time and by now many would expect his collections to become predictable but this was not the case. I found this look paying homage to Naomi Campbell’s iconic Valentino moment during this year’s Spring couture presentation at Paris Fashion Week in a way that is wearable and youthful. Given that this collection was an ode to his late mother, this piece was powerful because it embodied the grace of an older woman but easily fitted into a modern girl’s world.
3 Rich Factory
Brands often dub themselves as being inclusive but in another breath create clothing that is not informed, flattering or edgy for those who do not fall within the ambit of societal beauty standards and body shapes. What I really enjoyed about Rich Factory was that the collection showed a deep understanding of the different kinds of body types that we have and the different silhouettes that go along with that. The collection was a job well done.
Upcycled fashion can look thrifty, cheap and tacky but somehow this upcycling collection by LaurenceAirline managed to be interesting, sophisticated and showed off sharp tailoring skills paired with clever craftsmanship. It is difficult to take a fabric such as plastic and make it look wearable -as opposed to costumey and gimmicky- but this collection did it well and effortlessly.
5 Masango by Siphosihle
This was by far my favourite collection. It offered a modern twist on traditional African ideals in a bold and refreshing way. It challenged how audiences interact with textiles, fabric and nudity and the runway showcase was an experience that kept us on the edge of our seats. What I enjoyed about the pieces was that, whether worn together as styled on the runway or separately, each item was unique. The elongated sleeves are another trend that we might see in mainstream fashion.