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Fashion meets jazz in Cape Town

Copy of ca LARA KLAWIKOWSKI_8816 [1]
(Photo:MarieAustralia short formal dresses)

It is this ability to adapt and change form that has inspired fashion designer Lara Klawikowski’s latest range.

“Fungi has a way of morphing its texture and silhouette to a certain shape in an unpredictable and unexpected way. That has always been a signature of my brand… nothing folds in a way that it should but it folds exactly how it should, ending up being a beautiful and structural piece,” she says.

Klawikowski will be showcasing her range at the annual Wear SA gala dinner, “Fashion and all that Jazz” on Thursday. Held ahead of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival at the weekend, the affair is part of the Wear South African campaign that encourages support for locally produced products.

I meet Klawikowski at her studio in Woodstock where she is working on her range that involves six different looks.

The futuristic-looking dresses, in colours such as red and yellow, are made of tracksuit cord sewn into chiffon.

“Adding cord into a delicate fabric such as chiffon completely alters the shape. Normally chiffon is floatly, but with the cord it becomes very structural and very sculptural, moulding itself into a unique shape. It has an organic feel on the inside and outside,” she says.

“I’m very excited to see how people will respond to these dresses. They’re not something you see every day at stores or even on runways.”

The designs are for that fashion-forward thinking woman with the ability to style the garments in different looks, Klawikowski explains. “She is definitely aware of what local designers are doing and is willing to take a risk. If she wears this, people are going to stare. Also, the designs are for someone who is quite informed and who enjoys talking about fashion in a constructive way. A person with an understanding of garmenting and fabrication, (with) a deeper understanding of design.”

Also taking part in the fashion show are other emerging designers, Ernest Mahomane and Ricci Janse van Rensburg of Ricci JvR, and design schools, Cape Town College of Fashion Design and Northlink College.

For her showcase, Ricci JvR says she drew inspiration from the nomadic lifestyle.

“The inspiration for this collection can be summarised in one word – ‘Resfeber’, a Swedish word describing the restless race of the traveller's heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a ‘travel fever’ that can manifest as an illness.

“For me it is all about combining textures… Layering and textures are extremely important.”

Ricci JvR focused on comfortable clothing, layered and styled effortlessly.

“The silhouettes are relaxed, soft and draped with roomy, romantic volume,” she says. “I don’t design for a specific body type or person… the design process and realisation of each piece is important. Therefore, I focus on individual pieces at a time. I do, however, try to design diverse pieces, ensuring that no matter your taste, you would find something in the collection that would suit your style.”

Ricci JvR says more and more people now support local designers.

“I think this shift came largely because more effort was made to inform the public of the talent that we have in South Africa and the benefits of buying locally,” she says.

“Also, with a lot of international designers looking to Africa for inspiration, it has definitely boosted the overall image of the industry. There are so many different factors and opinions that contribute and influence this, but I think creating awareness is the best place to promote local designers.”

To this end, the designers, as part of the Wear SA campaign, will also be staging fashion shows at different shopping malls across the city until the end of April.

“A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to attend fashion weeks… This is a way of letting everyone else see the work that local designers are producing,” says Klawikowski. “I would like to see more South Africans buying local products… as something that they can wear, that can be part of their lives and lifestyle. The Wear SA campaign is a excellent platform to promote local designers to South Africans.”

Joburg designer Ernest Mahomane says “People don’t buy international brands because they are better than our local brands. International brands put up massive campaigns for their products and all you see are those ads… to a point that you would think local brands do not exist.

“This is when we need to get big businesses investing in our local talent and using the same strategy. The more people are confronted by local brands, the more they will buy them. Big businesses should give a helping hand to new talent – not by offering small prizes in creativity competitions, but by offering business mentorship and financial support.”

For his showcase on Thursday, Mahomane has put together a range that is “simple, wearable… keeping the everyday woman in mind”.

“I definitely didn’t want a heavy look, but at the same time I wanted it to look layered. And when it comes to fabric, nothing comes as durable and as comfortable as cotton. Most of the range is made from locally produced cotton,” he says.

Explaining the link between fashion and jazz, Herman Pillay, chief executive of the Trade Call Investments Apparel Group, the creative hub for designers and clothing manufacturers, says that the liberation of fashion through music started in the early 1900s during the post-war economic boom.

“In the 1920s the new evolving American youth culture led the way to an increase in consumer demand for fashion. The conservative, mannequin-like, tightly corseted fashion sense of the late 1800s was in desperate need of radical transformation. Jazz music ignited the fuel for loose flimsy fabrics and fits that would allow the wearer to flow into the rhythm of the music,” says Pillay.

“The blues, ragtime and swing jazz styles brought about a fresh and unique form of art that depicted the collaboration of jazz and fashion which still exists on our catwalks today.”

According to Khalid Abdulla, acting chief executive of ESPAfrika, the event managers and producers of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Wear SA Fashion show and gala dinner perfectly complement the total offering of the jazz festival weekend.

“We are very proud to be associated with the fashion show and gala dinner and believe that this event, like the established jazz festival, will become another highlight on Cape Town’s fashion calendar,” he says.Read more at:MarieAustralia formal dresses 2014

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