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Review of Cape Town Fashion Week


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The city of Cape Town Hosted yet another successful fashion week, with Arise Fashion Week bringing forth the latest trends for spring and summer 2009. Cape Town fashionistas and the shows itself have their own flair and attitude each show must bring originality and style. Therefore getting recognition through a standing ovation or thunderous applause will mean a lot to the designers at this particular event, as Cape Townians.     

In the article below, Robyn Cooke discusses Cape Town fashion Week including the designers that made an impression at their shows and the unique style Cape Town Fashion Week. Use the navigation link to view articles on the City of Cape Town on CBN's website as well as business related articles.    

CT Fashion Week wrap
By: Robyn Cooke

The thing about Cape Town Fashion Week is that it is like no other. It has its own character and design aesthetic. It has its own personality and way of doing things. Cape Town Fashion Week is short on hype, standing ovations and high volume networking — and long on latecomers and old-school devotees of real wearable fashion creations.

It is the South African fashion week that is all about commercial, idiosyncratic clothes and low-key glamour. It is fashion in a resort town, not a buzzing metropolis.

Not standard practice

When a Capetonian turns up for your show, claps and leaves smiling, this is a triumph. In Johannesburg this would be considered standard practice no matter what you thought of the show, but in Cape Town it is a very big deal.

Arise Cape Town Fashion Week 2009, which has just finished for another year, saw only one standing ovation and one excessively loud clap.

The standing ovation went to the boys from Klûk CGDT for their accomplished and extremely civilised off-site showing at the Val de Vie Polo Estate out in Paarl on Sunday afternoon.

It was a deserving accolade and one that was even more valuable since it was delivered by their customers. Only a handful of the media decided to turn up, which was their loss.

Sheer class and elegance

The especially loud clapping was in acknowledgement of the sheer class and elegance of the final 14 looks from Carducci Woman — each a LBD in the style of Chanel but with a modern personality and fabrication. This too was richly deserved and a real highlight of the week.

But the people's winners of the week were actually the everyday designers. The local folks who make fashionable gear for local people — without the excesses of sequin and feathers and fur and frills. You know, just lovely clothing, beautifully constructed that the people of the Mother City find to be suitable to get about town in, to sip cocktails by the ocean and enjoy the splendour of what the city has to offer on a warm sunny summer's day.

Real winners

Labels like Michelle Ludek and especially Tart were the real winners here. There was not a girl in the audience at the Tart show that didn't pick out the two or three items that she was going to add to her summer wardrobe this year.

This is what you would call a commercial success. Sure, it is not conceptual genius. But it is fashion. Executed in the bold, citrusy block colours on-trend for this season, there was barely a foot gone wrong in the style stakes.

But of course, this may come as something of a disappointment to the visitors from Joburg, or those that are used to the glitz and glamour of Paris. Expectations need to be reset for the people attending Cape Town's fashion week. And designers need to find the right balance so as to address the parochial charm of the city.

And the divas...

Both of South Africa's designer drama divas, Gavin Rajah and David Tlale cleverly tipped a hat to this local flavour in their collections.

Gavin introduced a new line in customised denim that was much more "street" than his usual frothy masterpieces, which did also get a showing. And David presented a 'Cruise' collection as his nod to the regional vibe and to give space to show off his new shoe range with Luella.

This was a smart move on their part. And many of the other designers need to think this through when planning their own collections for Cape Town. It is no surprise to say that more edgy designers like Stiaan Louw were notably missed — as they have this balance absolutely perfect for their market.

One-of-a-kind beauty

But more importantly, the way in which the fashion week in Cape Town is marketed is what needs to change.

Better market positioning within the fashion context is key to manage expectations of visitors, including buyers, media and fashion enthusiasts. I have been bleating for a while that Cape Town Fashion Week should be positioned as Resort Collections — possibly with one whole day of swimwear shows — as this seems to make the most sense.

Resort Collections are accessible, commercially positioned shows that assume the garments will be available in sizes to purchase within a very short time frame. And this is what the big winners of the week got absolutely right.

It was a fun week full of ideas of what will complete my summer wardrobe essentials. With a twist and a tweak from the designers and the organisers, we may have something really special to offer fashion. A fashion week with a personality and style of its own, fitting right in with the beautiful city that plays host to it. Now that really would be a smart move.

Date Posted: 2009-08-26
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