Coenraad de Mol's death marks the second fashion designer loss of 2020, after Sergio Rossi died at the age of 84 in April.
On Tuesday afternoon, the South African Fashion Week (SAFW) organisation issued an official statement announcing the tragic news, along with posts on their social media platforms too.
Stylist, Lan, expressed shock at the news on Instagram, writing; "This is so surreal. A KIND and GENTLE soul, a GIFTED talent, a great VISIONARY a friend I prized and deeply respected. How I'll miss your GENIUS Coenraad," while Mercia Maserumule commented, "A heartbreaking loss of one of the most dedicated, talented and wonderful teachers and mentors to our young designers in the Design Innovation Challenge. May his soul Rest In Peace."
"The passing of leading South African designer, Coenraad de Mol on Tuesday 19 May 2020, has left the local fashion industry devastated," says Lucilla Booyzen, director of the South African Fashion Week.
“Coenraad was a highly gifted and knowledgeable industry leader who derived great joy from the creative process which he expressed in his cutting-edge De Mil menswear label which was most recently seen at the Cape Wools and Mohair SA Designer Challenge show at SA Fashion Week in October 2019.
"He was a perfectionist, exceptionally generous with his expertise and took great delight in his role as design and production technology tutor of SAFW’s 21 Steps to Retail Designer Programme."
For those who are unfamiliar with Coenraad's portfolio, it is described succinctly and respectfully on SAFW as follows;
"De Mil was established by Coenraad De Mol in 1997 and moved into male-inspired gender neutral clothing in 2007. Although a master pattern maker and a true constructionist, De Mil takes a new-world approach to clothing. Coenraad doesn’t regard gender neutrality as just a theme. 'It’s what I do,' he says. He caters to those who don’t have a place as well as those who choose not to be boxed-in by societal norms or conventions."
The industry has lost both a rare and visionary creative as well as a caring and committed friend, employer and mentor to many.
The entire creative fashion design industry is deeply saddened by this tragic loss.