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Friday, 10 April 2009

South Africa's Fashion Week Plays with Color and Fun

Of all the fashion capitals throughout the world, from the major metropolitan cities of the United States to the cultured and refined relics of Europe and Asia, South Africa may not so readily come to mind when one thinks about modern design and the fashion scene. Closely associated with political unrest and the years of apartheid in the minds of many, the small yet bustling nation at the tip of the African continent has actually been enjoying a significant flourishing of culture, tradition, and progress. The fashion industry is certainly a component of this movement, and the country is fast becoming a notable venue for exotic designs, ethnically-inspired patterns and pieces, and interesting new takes on classic clothing, jewelry, and accessories. South Africa's native penchant for fun and flair in fabric and other materials was on full display last week during the nation's own version of fashion week. An event somewhat similar to the famed shows, parties, and media buzz created in the likes of Paris and New York, South Africa fashion week took on a generous dash of local flavor and both surprised and delighted onlookers with several fresh takes on the Spring wardrobe.
One of the undeniable stars of the event and hailed as South Africa's most successful and certainly most prominent design labels, Stoned Cherrie presented a bevy of exciting pieces that had critics investigating both the aesthetic ideas and historical significance behind the clothes. Claiming that the label is a symbol of abundance and works to represent the power and appeal of plentitude, Stoned Cherrie designer Nkhensani Nkosi led the event with wonderful fashions from head to toe. Pieces featured bright, vivid colors, employing local dyeing traditions and materials; pallates were painted with the hues of Spring, but steered clear of being confined within the season's sweet pastels. Brilliant tones combined to create impressive pops of color and hinted at the African preference for jubilant, energetic clothing. Materials incorporated various fabrics in an array of cuts and crimps, adding a special dimension to the skirts, pants, tops, and dresses parading down the runway.
Nkosi makes mention of being inspired by the Mapungubwe civilization, a group of ancient peoples who lived in southern Africa many thousands of years ago. Drawing from more recent African roots as well as archaeological and cultural details about the Mapungubwe, the Stoned Cherrie line presented a kind of modern historical fiction in fabric and shape, suggesting how the ancient residents might have dressed themselves today. Nkosi and other prominent designers at the Johannesburg show noted that despite global economic woes, their lines were experiencing a flourishing of sales, helping to cement the idea that fun and affordable fashion is never really dead. It's certainly a spirit that costume jewellery lovers will understand.


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