Monday, February 14, 2011

Fashion Fusion Crafters project 2011

What do you get when a native New Yorker hooks up with a redhead from South Africa? Product development fusing craft with cutting edge fashion design on a big creatively scale!

This week-end US product developer Linda Trau jetted into SA as guest of SA Fashion Week owner and Shoprite Woman of the Year winner, Lucilla Booyzen. Linda, who uses business as a strategy for the economic empowerment of women in developing countries, is in South Africa to put together a new line of products using indigenous craft skills and techniques, stimulating trade and further developing SA Fashion Week’s commitment to providing a sustainable income to craft groups in rural areas.

The pair fairly sped through every (fashionably) conceivable market, retail outlet, factory and design floor; meeting SA Fashion Week designers, exploring craft potential, placing orders, screening product, visiting more designers, developing the fashion export industry, occasionally eating and enhancing trade relations with the US. It was a busy week-end!

Our second instalment unfolds this week as the stylish pair heads off to the Western Cape to continue the SA Fashion Week Craft roadshow. Watch this space!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sewing up a storm in Cullinan

Thursday 3 February, Pretoria One of the country’s leading manufacturers of consumer goods, Unilever is offering a number of NGOs around the country a positive start to the year with the opportunity to increase earning power in their communities.

During the next two weeks no less than 400 sewing machines will be donated by SURF to a number of charities in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, empowering women at the NGOs to create an income for themselves and their families.

Ethne Whitley, public affairs manager of Unilever, says handovers have ranged between three and 50 sewing machines at charities throughout the provinces. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to empower women, giving them a good start to 2011.”

Whitley adds, “One of Unilever’s 12 Product of the Year awards winners, SURF is offering NGOs the substance and capacity to help their communities through skills development and increased income.”

The Sizakele Creations project in Cullinan received 10 sewing machines from the SURF team. Sizakele was founded 10 years ago with the aim of empowering community members to improve their sewing skills, income earning capacity and their ability to support themselves.

For the last four years the NGO has been working together with South African Fashion Week’s DAC Fashion Fusion Project. The SAFW focus is on developing designers and fusing design with fashion, and top local designers such as Clive Rundle, Amanda Laird-Cherry and Soda have worked with Sizakele since the project launched.

Ester Scholz, spokesperson for Sizakele, says “Since Sizakele was founded, the group has completed many jobs, large and small, and we would like to see it expand to accommodate more workers, therefore the addition of more sewing machines will be a great advantage.

“At Sizakele Creations, we are always looking to make the most of our opportunities and turn each one into a small victory for our crafters and our creative community.”

Whitley concludes, “SURF’s handover of sewing machines will make a difference to hundreds of families during 2011.”

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Giorgio Armani is opening a hotel in Russia’. His Armani Hotels and Resorts company, together with other investors, will launch a luxury hotel in the Stavropol region. The exact place has not been decided on yet, however reports say Armani will choose between Kislovodsk, Yessentuki or Pyatigorsk. Investment in the project is expected to surpass $150 million and will be repaid no earlier than eight years after, even taking into consideration that visitors will be charged $2,000 per day on average.

The Caucasus mountain range is famous for its mineral springs and breathtaking landscapes. The region has been known for its resorts since the 19th century. This is the only place on the planet that is home to about 130 mineral springs. However, popularity of these places has dwindled due to poorly developed infrastructure. There are not hotels and other services that would definitely fancy well-off visitors.

Armani`s project is going to be the first luxury hotel to attract both Russians and foreigners. However, it happens quite often that new ideas are opposed by skeptics. “I do not think that a luxury hotel in the Caucasus will be a success”, says Stanislav Ivashkevich, deputy director for hotel infrastructure at CB Richard Ellis.

"I agree that the region lacks good hotels. But, first of all, this is where people go to improve their health. This is not a place for experiments with design. Well-off people come to London, Paris, New York and Singapore to enjoy luxury and do the shopping. But in Kislovodsk or Pyatigorsk there aren’t any places where rich people could spend their money."

However, one should not forget that the North Caucasus region has been developing in a quick pace recently. New roads are being constructed, as well as hotels of different categories, including some with 5-star rating. There is a 275-room spa-hotel in Kislovodsk, with two more of the kind expected to appear soon. So, skeptics may be mistaken when they say that Giorgio Armani`s project will fail.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Day Of The Hat

What is it about South Africans and their fixed and dogged determination to pursue outdoor lifestyles with strict adherence to seriously unfashionable headgear? I understand the necessity of a good sun block, in fact I’m all for the ultra soothing ultra hydrating replenishing moisture repair care, but what is it with the Haute Most Hideous Sunhat? It is after all, the most obvious choice of sun protection and yet when it comes to hats, we are in serious dereliction of fashionable duty.

I recall the Winter Collections from 2009, when one of the darlings of the SA Fashion Week set paraded a series of sensational cloche styled hats down the Runway – Guillotine’s inspired and innovative hats were brilliant, beautiful, beyond. More recently Loxion added a touch of a’tcha to his fedora’s as sesweshwe flava’d hats hit home with a decidedly African twist – 1 love to 1D.

The shame of the sunhat could go down in the psalms of millinery history as an unmitigated flop, but that even, would be casting serious aspersions on the humble flop. So while our counterparts in the eyewear department have pushed the limits to the “Extreme”, with an endless selection of styles at our disposal – the Fez, the Breton, the Cap, the Cossack, the Cloche, the Beret, the Panama - the time has come to make this year, the year of the hat!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Seriously Green!

It’s back to basics as the SA Fashion Week team adopts energy efficient alternatives to greening their office environment.

Green Tip of the Day:

Eco-Print and set your printer to print double-sided, save money, less waste and buy half as much paper! Check out Paper Caf├ęs environmentally friendly range of paper

With renewed commitment to preserving our planet, eco-friendly fashion is fast becoming de rigueur for environmentally conscious individuals who prefer not to leave a carbon footprint. Pret-A-Porter Collections are opting for naturally delicate palettes - blush pink, sand through beige and richly textured browns in a myriad of textured fabrics and rigorously explored shapes. Incorporating Green Vision reflects a move towards responsibility and an appreciation for local culture – fashion fusing craft with design has long lead the way on runways with local crafting skills and techniques infusing designers creations with a soul and reverence that can’t be matched by industry and technology.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mozambique Fashion Week
I have been invited to the MFW and what a fantastic experience.
They are doing one show per day - 9pm in the evening - in secret venues which means that no one knows where the venue is until 12pm the night before the show. The venues are all absolutely beautiful. Last night it was at the station a old stately building with amazing character. We were fantasizing on chartering a plane filled with our clients and friends bringing them to Maputo for one night - putting minimalist rooms into an old train and having everyone stay on the platform for the evening. There is a fantastic little bar and restaurant in the station - eating there tonight.
The after parties were also kept secret so it was all very secretive and exciting. This can only work in a small town where absolutely everyone knows everyone. I wonder who is going to copy them first as in SA we copy, copy, copy - very few original ideas.
The focus at the MFW is on development. Vasco the owner of MFW is very serious about training and mentoring existing designers - at the moment they do not have a Fashion School in Maputo but they are working on it which is great. MFW worked with Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design in SA.
The models are beautiful - it is a huge challenge to start with nothing and build it year by year - looking at past MFW's you can see enormous progress.
I am staying in the Polana which is really a disappointment - they have renovated it and it is totally ruined, it looks like a one of those revamped chain of hotels in SA - totally without character, such a pity. Service and food is excellent though.
Will post pictures soon. LB

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It wasn't only about the centre stage

Here are some snapshots from backstage of the Mac makeup team and Carlton Hair team doing what they do best! Again, thank you to these awesome sponsors!