Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ngxokolo's MaXhosa Range Impresses Joburg Fashion Week

By Tshepo Tshabalala

Heavy knitted, patterned, warm, pure mohair and Merino rich, wooly garments from skirts, cardigans and dresses in traditional Xhosa designs and colours defined what could be the most outstanding collection at this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre.

South Africa is a country with 11 official languages and a few more others. It's cultures differ from region to region and city to city. That's probably why it is often difficult to really describe what is truly an authentically South African design or collection. Maybe it's also as equally difficult to say what is authentically African. Many are likely to say it is something they can relate to, garments which perhaps remind them of their childhood, or what their elders wore in the 1970s, 80s and maybe the 90s. Another group of South Africans would take some of their styles from Europeans.

I’d like to focus on the former. On its second day of showcasing just a handful of the country’s top fashion designers, fashion heads had the opportunity to see and buy what we could be seeing on the shelves in seasons to come. I must add, I do not know much about fashion, but I know a good piece of clothing when I see one. Collections ranged from ready-to-wear outfits, to one-time pieces which might be seen at some of the country’s big events.

What made Friday night special, was that it sparked the excitement, anxiety and expectations for the menswear ranges that will be showcased on the final day of Fashion Week.

On Friday night, a stunning knitwear collection closed the night’s proceedings, MaXhosa by designer Laduma Ngxokolo. His show started by a video touching on a topic that is hard to swallow, Xhosa tradiional initiation and what it means to be a man. His vision was to create a modern Xhosa-inspired knitwear collection that would be suitable for amakrwala (initiates), who are prescribed by their tradition to dress up in new dignified formal clothing for six months after initiation.

Billionaire Patrice Motsepe and wife, Africa
Fashion International Chairperson,
Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe at #MBFWJ
His was the first to receive nearly, a first full house, drawing a big crowd at fashion week thus far and also a standing ovation. His garments tugged at emotions and the strings of an entire audience, that Africa Fashion International’s chairperson, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe personally went backstage to the media lounge, with her husband, Patrice Motsepe to congratulate Ngxokolo on his collection.

Moloi-Motsepe described the garments as authentically South African, while she held the wooly, heavy garments in her hands. She even made a gesture of one nearly running away with the garments without “paying” for it in showing her appreciation and awe for Laduma’s range.

The natural step would be to ask, how would an international audience receive Maxhosa’s range? What would an audience in Milan, Paris or New York fashion week say about Laduma’s collection?  For now, I think it’s best we sit back and allow Ngxokolo to make his statement and conquer the world.

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