Gideon

The SA Fashion Week (SAFW) Spring Summer 2012 collections that ended on Sunday in Johannesburg showcased a mix of designs, from the stylish to the startling. But most of the designers played it safe.

And SAFW founder and director Lucilla Booyzen is more than happy with this.

Booyzen said there were two categories of designers in South Africa – the more commercial ones who had stores, or supplied stores, and those who wanted to make an individual statement, whose inspiration was not consumer-driven but came from their own unique expression.

“Both categories are of the utmost importance for the development of creative fashion design in a country,” Booyzen said as the shows wrapped up.

SAFW’s slogan is “The Business of Fashion” and Booyzen makes no bones about the fact that much of what is on the ramp must be wearable, because the garments created by designers need to sell. And selling they are – 146 stores in the country are stocking SA designer collections.

Durban designers had a strong presence at the fashion event. Terrence Bray and Colleen Eitzen emphasised femininity, looking to their own backyards for inspiration.

Bray drew on the works of his neighbour artist Jeannie Kinsler to present a range in soft and gentle hues with floral splashes mixed with duck egg blues and chartreuse. It was a relaxed range featuring drawstrings, dropped waists and flowing silhouettes, teamed with Tsonga shoes and bags.

Eitzen’s range was distinctly Durban. Banana leaves, palm fronds and strelitzia prints created a playful fun collection in white, yellow and chartreuse, fleshed out with nude tones. Relaxed knit dresses, kaftans with batwing tops and shorts set the scene of a Durban summer.

Francois Vedemme gave his signature looks a modern twist to create a dreamy collection in chiffon and lace in neutral tones, with a few accents of colour. As always, attention to detail was superb.

Gideon made a welcome return to the fashion week ramp with a modern relaxed range that combined flesh, olive and grey tones, contrasting with dramatic metallic evening wear that featured chiffons and tuille detail.

DUT graduate Joel Janse van Vuuren presented an impressive colourful and feminine range in hand-dyed fabrics.

Durban label Narain Samy – a stylish evolution from a small tailoring shop in the Durban CBD 52 years ago – won accolades for a bright, summery menswear range, in teals, orange, yellow and khaki.

Clive Rundle’s avant garde range and Suzaan Heyns’ cement couture – think cement scarves, jackets and collars – were talking points well after the show.

Vesselina Pentcheva ran with a fairy tale theme, with her three young daughters in Red Riding Hood outfits opening her show.

Tiffany Prior, owner of Ice Model Management in Durban, said: “This was not the platform to show outrageous clothing. It was about the business of selling and in that sense it was a success. Overall, it was an understated and elegant affair, the way it should be.”