What does it take to make a fresh new Gert-Johan Coetzee collection for South African Fashion Week?
A combination of aspirational, gravity-defying couture and fresh ready-to-wear glamour in an elegant black and cream palette; exquisite finishing and tailoring, and proudly South African materials that epitomise African luxury, that’s what.
The popular South African designer has built his Spring/Summer 2019 collection around the glamour of African baroque with a modern twist, while turning his social focus towards the increasing global awareness of sustainability, bringing this awareness onto his fashion platform.
“The fashion industry worldwide is becoming more and more eco-conscious, and it is exciting to watch the technologies develop to support this,” says Coetzee.
“The more the demand for sustainable fashion increases, the more technological solutions we’ll see, making it possible for us as designers to embrace the mantra of repurpose, recycle, reboot.”
Coetzee believes that designers of couture and high-end ready-to-wear have an important role to play in creating awareness, although the big problem lies with the mountains of post-consumer waste resulting from the trend for disposable “fast fashion”.
“The easiest way to make a contribution as a fashion consumer is to buy investment pieces and well made, durable, classic items that can last for years,” says Coetzee, who is also increasingly choosing to use natural, locally produced fabrics such as ostrich feathers and mohair on the luxury garments produced in his studio.
“Vivienne Westwood said ‘buy less, choose well and make it last' and I cannot agree with her more,” says Coetzee.
“There is such luxury in being able to create, and to wear, pieces that have history and longevity.”
The designer, who recently dressed legends Oprah Winfrey and Lauryn Hill, is embarking on a project involving his VIP and celebrity clients, where he will be repurposing previously loved garments to benefit youngsters who cannot afford matric dance dresses.
“My primary responsibility, and privilege, as a designer is to make women and girls feel their most beautiful, and adding the luxury of glamour to someone’s special day is a gift I treasure!” he says.
The Gert-Johan Coetzee Spring/Summer 2019 collection will feature sharp shoulders and unusual silhouettes that break from the norm, emphasising feminine curves.
Updating the monochrome palette that has come to epitomise the Coetzee brand, the designer has chosen a delicate shade of antique ivory rather than crisp white to contrast with black.
“I wanted to evoke the luxury and richness of an invitation printed on thick, monogrammed paper; the patina on a vintage mirror, the rich crema on a cup of fine coffee and contrast this colour palette with really edgy, modern design elements.”
Coetzee's latest collection will showcase at South African Fashion Week on April 4 at the Protea Court Rooftop at Sandton City, and will be on display in the Diamond Walk afterwards until April 6.