A better-styled SA through creativity

Cape Town - Fashion is set to take centre stage at this year’s Design Indaba, with 40 designers preparing to show their creations – both on the runway or at stalls at the expo.

Bearing the logo “a better world through creativity”, this year’s event, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from February 28 to March 2, began with just three fashion designers on board, but interest exploded, and soon 40 were signed up.

Shelley Robertsons designs are feminine, petite and dainty.. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDER, Independent NewspapersDesigners of brand Non-European (top to bottom) Louis, Tarien and their baby Isha Erasmus, participating in the Cape Town Design Indaba. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDERWayne Govender, now in his third year as designer for Csquared at House of Monatic, designs menswear with a twist.  PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDERLara Klawikowski checks the stitching on some of her jackets. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDERMegan Fogarty models her African-inspired jewellery. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDER

Bryan Ramkilawan, chief executive of the Cape Town Fashion Council, explains that the expo is important, because interaction between up-and-coming fashion designers and retailers is crucial.

South Africa has an abundance of young talent in the fashion industry, but not enough retailers to sell their products.

“We want to create an ethos of buying local,” Ramkilawan says.

The Design Indaba expo, with a day purely for buyers before it opens to the public, creates an ideal opportunity.

Lara Klawikowski, who is among the 40, will be showing at the indaba for the first time independently, although she’s participated previously as part of the Cape Town College of Fashion runway show.

After entering and winning a competition with a dress made entirely of condoms, she won R30 000 to kick-start her business, and started out creating avant-garde pieces at her Woodstock studio.

Later, however, she was ready for her own collection, and her first spring/summer collection was showcased at Cape Town Fashion Week last August. Now, her autumn/winter collection is set to take the stage at the indaba.

She says she likes to take risks in terms of combinations of contrasting fabrics she uses. With her new collection, she was inspired by sleepwalking, she explains, adding that it reflects her “leaning towards wearable art”.

A sleepwalker herself, Klawikowski is regularly filled in on her antics by friends and family, but she never remembers herself. It’s a subject that fascinates her, and many of her new pieces are inspired by paintings of known sleepwalkers, and others by dreams of realising you’re at school in your blazer and pyjama bottoms.

She says the expo and show are great as a marketing platform, and that she’s grateful for the opportunity for people to see her designs and to get feedback.

“For people to see my work and my designs is huge.”

Wayne Govender, now in his third year as designer for Csquared at House of Monatic, designs “menswear with a twist”.

“If I were a chef, I’d make bling food,” he offers as an explanation.

Asked what to expect from him at the Design Indaba this year, he explains that this year will be his first time showing his designs for Csquared at the event. He’s looking forward to showing off to local clientele, along with other local and international designers.

Govender’s new collection is all about slim, tailored suits, with added decadence – embellishments of sequins and beads. The concept behind the collection is “opening night on the red carpet in Hollywood”, he says, adding that men are dressing up more, and shouldn’t be afraid to embellish a little.

The faces behind “true South African” brand Non-European, married couple Tarien and Louis Erasmus, will also be there for the big event with a collection true to their usual neutral comfortable style, but with a hint of uniformity.

They took inspiration from all kinds of uniforms; from military to industrial overalls and even a hint of “natural camouflage” with florals.

“By your uniform, you can see your identity,” says Louis.

“We’re reinterpreting uniform in a way that’s still wearable,” Tarien adds.

It’s their third time showing at the expo, but they’re particularly excited about this year, as they promise they have a surprise lined up for the runway show.

All they’ll say for now is that they’re planning on “giving someone else a bit of the limelight”.

Local is lekker for jewellery designers at Indaba

The Design Indaba offers local jewellery designers a special opportunity to show their work, and no one’s more excited than Megan Fogarty, who says the event gives her the chance to go bigger and bolder, with limited-edition pieces.

Fogarty uses real old South African coins for her label, Oh Dear Megan. She sells through local retailers and is in the process of opening an online store, which she jokes is the “bane of my existence”, but worth all the effort.

While smaller pieces are more popular among retailers, the Design Indaba is something different.

“This is what I would do if I could do whatever I want,” she says of her collection for the expo.

She wants her new designs to be “obviously African and fun”, and osn’t afraid to embrace “African kitsch” to do so. The collection is predominantly green and gold because she loves the combination, but she’s sure her subconscious naturally made the proudly South African link.

Looking to the future, she wants to collaborate with other designers to emphasise the point that buying local is cool.

And she’s also planning a range for men, because she says it’s difficult for men to find accessories, while more of them are showing an interest.

Fellow jeweller Shelley Robertson is set to unveil a new concept at this year’s indaba; from her brand Shelley&Harry (Harry is her pet dachshund/business partner/logo inspiration), Robertson has created a “starter box”, a compact and complete collection of her latest designs in a display box, branded and ready to put straight on the shelf of any retailer.

The feminine, petite and dainty range is mostly silver, with small components of yellow and rose gold, and the odd diamond thrown in.

She’s showcasing her new luxury range starter box in a different way for the indaba as part of the First Editions Series.

The box will be on show in a secure, enclosed space.

Robertson says it’s difficult to have an open stall due to the value of her products, but she still wants to be involved in the Design Indaba because she loves it.

“So these new podiums are perfect for me,” she says.