Fashion fest goes global

The show of MaXhosa by Laduma. Picture: Simon Deiner / SDR
The show of MaXhosa by Laduma. Picture: Simon Deiner / SDR

The Motsepes’ African Fashion International Cape Town Fashion Week returned with loads of glamour, this time alongside the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference.

One of the most respected fashion voices in the world, editor of Vogue International and fashion critic Suzy Menkes, sat in the front row next to Precious Moloi-Motsepe and her husband Patrice Motsepe, and Fashion Week regular Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Menkes was replete with her striking trademark exaggerated pompadour hairstyle and contrasting bob, writing on a tiny notepad during the shows and posting videos and photos of the designers’ work on her Instagram account.

The luxury conference held at the Lookout Venue at the V&A Waterfront, hosted and curated by Menkes, is an annual event that travels the world, having been hosted in cities including Lisbon, Muscat, Florence and Seoul.

This year’s theme, the Nature of Luxury, said Menkes, aimed to explore the artisanal skills and creative talent in Africa, while examining the broader landscape of the global luxury market and its sustainability.

On Thursday morning De Beers Group chief executive Bruce Cleaver had the audience gasping when he pulled a 61-carat diamond from his suit pocket. Known as the Kimberley Octahedral diamond and discovered in 1974, it’s the largest naturally formed octahedral diamond ever found.

The purpose of Cleaver’s speech at the conference, which cost $5 500 (almost R77 000) to attend, and where Africans were vastly outnumbered, was to highlight De Beers’ efforts to give back to communities in areas they mine.

“This is not a fashion conference. It’s a conference looking at many aspects of the world of beauty, dress, good health, right through Africa,” Menkes said earlier in the week.

Thursday night’s gala dinner at Simon’s Restaurant in Groot Constantia was as glamorous as it was strange.

The marquee had fabulously flamboyant red blossoms hanging from the ceiling and baffling centrepieces that were a mix of baby carrots, beetroot and other tiny vegetables.

Running around in bouts of panic was designer Gavin Rajah, who doubled up as the event planner while also showing his latest collection on the night alongside David Tlale, Marianne Fassler and Taibo Bacar.

“I used a colour palette for Spring/Summer 2020 and I also wanted to show Africa in a very strong contemporary way. I didn’t want to show it in a way that people think, ‘Oh Africa, it has to be leopard print’.

A design by Maxhosa by Laduma. Picture: SDR Photo

“I wanted to show it in a very modern way. But also the conference was about nature and luxury so I wanted to bring those two things together,” Rajah told City Press as guests, including Menkes’ designer Laduma Ngxokolo, food writer Siba Mtongana, and businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo, called it a night.

A highlight of the night – besides the impressive creations by the designers – was singer Lira who had everyone on their feet singing along to her hits as she danced in the room looking like a turquoise disco ball in a sparkly jumpsuit by Gert-Johan Coetzee.

Fassler, who turned 70 this year and is celebrating more than 40 years in fashion, had her bright colour designs and distinct clashing prints make their way around the room showing her resourcefulness by using leftover fabric as patchwork and embellishment.

On day two of fashion week held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre – which featured shows by AFI Privé, Ruff Tung, MaXhosa by Laduma, Doreen Mashika and Neville Masondo – the last show scheduled for the night by Quiteria & George was moved to day three. The two designers moved around the room looking stressed as it was announced their show had been postponed. Menkes and the Motsepes left before the last two shows.

MaXhosa by Laduma, scheduled for 8pm but which started almost an hour late, showed the Autumn/Winter collection by Amasiko Nezithethe to a cheering crowd.

“For me, personally, what fascinates me is that in our country and continent there are many traditions,” said Ngxokolo.

“There is a unique print I’ve created which I call ‘The African Union’. The continent has been deemed as highly divided. I’m trying to unite it through fashion.”

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