Lexus South African Menswear Week: The blasé nod to 2017 style

I think designers understand menswear better this year. While theatricality plays its part during fashion week, it is functionality and fresh design that provide the bottom line after the shows end, most of the time.
I think they’re getting it hey!

2017 collections gave the most blasé of nods as an ode to 2016 fashion trends. Rather than 100% originality, most designers showcasing at SA Menswear Week this year, opted to hibernate previous design motifs, and have them reemerge much refreshed, while keeping to their celebrated core design aesthetic.

Day 1

Thursday was the off-site, invite only opening of SA Menswear Week. Merchant on Long welcomed select few media, to showcases by MXVV x Craig Jacobs, as well as FMBCJ respectively. Underwhelming though they may have been in their entirety, I found 2 pieces I really liked, from the collaborated collection: A print track suit, as well as a textured and doodle graffiti printed jacket. I’m not a print and pattern girl, but I fux with this one because it doesn’t have clashing patterns…clashes give me hives #truestorybro 😕

I guess the best thing about the night , and the next 2 days, was the streetstyle. There weren’t as many bodies as fashion week is usually populated by, but there was a significant amount of stylish individuals.

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However big or small a fashion week is, I feel it is imperative to never let the fashion revelry escape you. I’ve seen too many attendees at South Africa’s fashion weeks, not making the effort to immerse themselves in the quintessential style culture that is one of fashion weeks most defining attributes.

…or maybe I’m just being oversensitive.

I just think fashion week is something special; and to be enjoyed with reckless abandon. Day 1 may have been a chill intimate, invite-only opening, but I brought more of the same – Nubian slayage! The dress is custom-made by the incomparable house of Ruff Tung; Hair and nails got sorted by Brazil Hair 😙Strappy high heels are by Madison Shoes, and my WICKED blingage is by celebrated jeweler Kirsten Goss💎

Day 2

Day 2 began with a late start for me, as I planned something hectic and edgy for my look of the night.

See, I had this whole vision of me doing a true androgynous look, but there’s always wardrobe issues that manifest for big occasions, like: me spending half the day trying to get a hold of a designer I’d emailed to get a clothing piece from, finalizing hair and make-up plans while begging for somebody to steam my blazers – ALL while battling an intense cold and Tonsillitis. Lord! It was just a f*ckfest of mad dashing on Friday, but thanks to my lovely handler at Puma, atleast my feet would be sorted.

I’d have forgone attending fashion week all together considering how woozy and feverish I was, had it not been for the fact that ITS FASHION WEEK! I’d sooner miss an episode of Game of Thrones than fashion week.

Anyway, nearly 2 hours was spent by Aretha Bauwens, making me look incredible in a dramatic and edgy high ponytail.

Thank Goodness for Brazil Hair, right?!

I rolled up to Day 2 fashionably late in Mai Atafo, Erre Fashion, Kirsten Goss, M.A.C Cosmetics, and Puma; but I’m told…well I was quit a vision.

A secret that I’ll whisper type to you – that will likely result in my being banned from stepping foot anywhere restricted at fashion week again – is that appearances truly do open doors for you…quite literally. On this particular day at fashion week, I rocked up to the event – and perhaps additionally due to my confident stance – was automatically let through to the VIP media area without flashing my credentials(the laminated sort, not the boobs). I had no need to take out my media pass, or tickets the entire night, and was prioritized to the front row for most of the shows. How cool is that?!

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I guess I set my own standard high now, cuz I can no longer go back to dressing any less than awesome for fashion week now, It’s just too convenient.

Anywhoooo, the show reviews.

The collections to forget over the whole 3 days, since they didn’t deign to design anything memorable ( even in its functionality) are: Naked Ape, Another, Good Good Good (okay, they had nice sunglasses in that show though), Maxivive, Unknown Union, 2Bop, Sol Sol, and Issa Leo.

I wanna have a hate-on for Rosey & Vittori, but the way in which they embodied Cape Town street style and lifestyle culture within their pieces, made for a collection I can’t even front on. Its wearable,fashionable and just…wholly aesthetically functional damnit!(also,tassels😙)

I’ll give Tsepo Tsotetsi a break because you can rarely go wrong with grey and jerseys – but imma need more in the next collection, hmmmm kay?!

Imprint was a surprise for me. I don’t remember being partial to their last collection, but maybe due to the high numbers of people wearing the prints around Cape Town, this showcase somehow seemed more lively and colorful, and palatable to me. There are atleast 4 pieces I would don.

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Photo courtesy of SDR Photo

I low-key hate myself for liking Jenevieve Lyons creations. See, when I use the pragmatic side of my fashion mind: I don’t see how the deconstruction of functional pieces, makes for a product worth buying. However, fuck that logic also, right?! The deconstructing Lyon has something with her collections. I’m not heavy into the deep explanations behind most designers inspiration, but I catch a whiff of brutal, unassuming beauty and suspended animation in her work.

Kim Gush was brazen with that showcase. Did anyone else see the Anne Rice inspiration behind the looks? It was very much like Anne Rice’s androgynous and fluid vampire Lestat, who straddled dramatic but aesthetically sound, with his wardrobe.

A clap for Nao Serati and the winter defiant pinks and baby blues of his collection, as well as Kidd Hunta and the perfect AW17 cape I can already see in ‘his’ wardrobe.

Nguni Shades collection would have been boring, if the clothing was’nt quite so…just soooo wearable. The clothing was common, and I still can’t put my finger on why I found it different though. Either way, Nguni Shades aint in the fashion dog house.

Tokyo James‘s collection was at the precipice of looking like a cheap imitation of Brooklyn hood culture and new money tryna act fancy, but the superbly cut leather, deftly handled with the skilled hand of a tailor, made most of the collection pass muster.

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Day 3

I was not even sure I could get out of bed for this, but fashion dragged me out my bed by the toe nails.

M.A.C Cosmetics made sure my eyes were as gorgeous as my Mai Atafo midnight blue Tuxedo blazer, while Kirsten Goss added that BAM! of awesome blingage. I strapped on my pair of strappy Madison Shoes, and got ready for the last night of fashion week.

As was the same the previous night, the media area was bereft of entertainment, more seating, substantial quantities of food, and exclusivity; So, one had to shockingly do what such areas are allocated for (besides drinking) – networking. There were a multitude of people, from: fashion council heads, to fashion aficionados, unwilling spousal attendees, and indifferent models; there were bloggers, photographers, designers, skirt-chasers and a few just in need of style guidance.

Okay, back to our regular show reviews.

Jahnkoy was a lesson in the appropriation of everything that’s found its way into fashion – sports, Coca-Cola, religious and traditional culture etc. I guess they were all slapped together to create a social commentary threaded into the very fabric of this zany collection, but me no likey!

As per usual, Rich Mnisi chose to not mess around with a sure thing.

Conceivably the most anticipated show of the week, Rich’s brand has been lauded for its infusion of a genuine sense of playful sophistication. His is a designer mischief sustained by some of the worlds most celebrated  fashion houses, which beautifully marries: the tradition of design sophistication and the classics, and Mnisi’s unmistakable African vibrancy augmented by flavorsome eccentricity.

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ALC was everything I want to wear when travelling Africa, and Nicholas Coutts has me sorted to tastefully tour Europe in Winter.

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Emmy Kasbit needs to stop doing the most mediocre with menswear, and give woman her designer hand. The tailored high-waisted pants she wore when taking her bow, are what would likely be her brands best sellers.

Martelle Ludik. Yeah, no hey. Maybe give it another try, or save the collection for unisex summer, yes?

Merwe Mode gave me what I expected, and more. A solid 7/10 for a collection that spans early fall, right up into the tempest of deep winter. I followed the colors and the cuts, and was arrested by the shapes of everything – so perfectly flattering for different silhouettes.

Alexandra Blank‘s masculine/feminine appropriation only succeeded with the flapping trench-coat in shades of winter.

Mai Atafo decided to shock attendees with the unveiling of a rather chill AW17 denim-based collection – a far cry from the astounding suits we fell for at last seasons showcase.

Initial unease quickly morphed into pleasant surprise at the quirky new normal of the collection – to the discerning fashion eye, the collection stands apart through Mai Atafo’s unwavering quality tailoring.

So then came the suits, and everybody was back to being entranced by all the lovely. The velvet side tapping on the pants, is what I loved the most – after I’d cataloged every blazer I would beg for, buy, borrow or steal from Mai’s collection.

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Photo courtesy of SDR Photo

This seasons trends:

  • The Deconstruction of every blazer, coat and trench.
  • Slogans (bold lettering) on every jersey and top.
  • Shades of blue in your wardrobe.
  • Wearing every print within your eye-line (I’m talking everything from different traditional attire, tablecloths, curtains, dashikis etc.)
  • Big ass scarves.
  • Gender fluidity.

So SA Menswear Week (Africa’s only stand-alone fashion platform dedicating itself to the development of menswear) AW17 is sponsored by Lexus, and was okay hey.

I’d give it a 6/10, would maybe recommend.

Perhaps the rating would be higher if SOME designers stopped trying to distract the audience from what an average collection they have, with additional performances and other gimmicks. Maybe if attendees took street style more seriously, I’d have given a higher rating so I don’t come off as bored and bothered by everything. Perhaps if people didn’t drag folks to fashion week, who don’t want to go, we wouldn’t have actual SA influencers who review fashion, sitting on steps while old men fall asleep on the front row #JustSaying.

The ability for organizers to be objectively discerning in who attends, and what they see, and experience, is the fundamental quality assurance that differentiates  fashion weeks across the world.

3 days. 3 looks. A whole lot of blessings, favors, and fun.

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