ROYALTY ROCKS: The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, right, and the Countess of Wessex, Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones, at the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange Design Exhibition in London.Picture: Supplied.
South African Fashion Week (SAFW) has received royal recognition at the Commonwealth Fashion Design exhibition.

The country's design fashion royalty showcased their work at London Fashion Week to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton; Countess of Wessex, Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones; and Princess Beatrice Mary of York.

Amid free-flowing bubbly and canapés fit for princesses, South Africa’s own fashion royalty joined their peers from 53 countries at a glittering Buckingham Palace on Monday, February 19.

Top designer Clive Rundle, collaborating with Lesotho-based textile design duo Phutheho Ranooe and Maleeto Monyau, of House of Thethana, were among the designers who represented the country.

South African Fashion Week director Lucilla Booyzen also represented the country on the Commonwealth Fashion Council.

“I was fortunate to get a personal copy of our publication documenting this project to each of their highnesses prior to the audience and was delighted at the incredible interest expressed by the Countess of Wessex in particular,” said Booyzen.

Booyzen is known for successfully running the Fashion Fusion Crafter/Designer Project with the Department of Arts and Culture in all nine provinces from 2007 to 2011.

“As a member of the Commonwealth Fashion Council, I was approached to make recommendations on South African designers who would have both the design capacity and sensitivity to work on the complexity of collaborating with cross-border crafters,” said Booyzen.

She added that Rundle was one of the first designers to embrace the Fashion Fusion Crafter/Designer Project in 2007 and continued to collaborate with the crafter community once the project was terminated due to a lack of funding.

Striking: one of South African designer Clive Rundle's outfit. Picture: Supplied. 

Rundle worked in collaboration with House of Thethana, which specialises in futuristic printmaking.

Drawing inspiration from Lesotho’s rich horsemanship culture, crafter Monyau worked under Rundle’s direction to develop a print suited to a high-fashion garment and for printing on luxurious fabrics such as silk and organza.

“The equestrian theme became a fundamental part of the pattern construction, referencing anything to do with riding a horse, so that the whole garment is about horses and saddles.

"However, it was important to us that we allowed the Lesotho image to transcend its geography to become a universally appealing idea,” said Rundle.

“The pattern pieces are a complex arrangement of many seasons, many collections, that together now make the idea of saddles."

Among participants of the exhibition were Karen Walker, who represented New Zealand; Bibi Russell, representing Bangladesh; and Burberry and Stella McCartney, representing the UK.

Following the official opening during London Fashion Week, the collection has since moved to a public exhibition at Australia House and will travel to other locations in London until April.