Ubuntu Spring Summer 2012

Stiaan Louw

Heni Este-Hilzen
Illustration by Andy Bumpus

MaXhosa Knitwear Photography by Magdalena Golembiewska

A stoic heritage aesthetic underpinned the Ubuntu Showcase, as Stiaan Louw, Heni Este-Hilzen and Laduma Ngxokolo represented contemporary South African design. Chosen by the Ubuntu project, who nurture and promote South African talent on the international stage, the designer’s LFW debut marks the start of an exciting three-year design programme.

Natasha Slee on Stiaan Louw

Earthy and sustainable: Stiaan Louw’s menswear collection felt calm, and at one with its environment. Harmonious women’s voices drew us into the show, as the first model walked in a loose soft grey t-shirt, over cream linen shorts. Thick rope-wrapped necklaces piled upon his neck in deep reds, pinks, greens and yellows.

Casual linen separates in earth browns and cream served as a base upon which drapery details were added: a cream linen coat fell from the shoulders in folds around the model, drawn in by a knotted brown leather belt.
Geometric use of bright colour appeared on satchels slung across shoulders and woven moccasins, giving life to the linen. The deeply slung harem trousers, and shoulder wrap scarves felt unapologetically casual, yet the African inspired accessories always drew us back, holding the look together.

Rosanna Cole on Heni Este-Hilzen

Between two casual menswear designers, was Heni Este-Hijzen’s city chic collection for women who want a little bit more from their working wardrobe. The strict pallet of grey, white and black transcended a work wear vibe but it was the little details and slight, inventive alterations that allowed the collection to break away from the conventions of office garb.

The first piece was a dress with a corsetry style top and grey pencil skirt. The pencil skirt - a typical example of women’s work wear but this piece had flirty flick towards the hem. The top was plastered with muted horizontal stripes to help our high-powered businesswoman to stride above the mundane.
Stripes were common of the collection but effectively used in a restricted way and only when needed to break up the simple shades – on the frilly sleeves of shirting, on the hems or placed over pockets on dresses.
Slick styles came through on the second look, a white shirt was cut off by the high grey main body a dress. A pussy bow flopped down from the collar of the crisp shirt.
Towards the end, the collection became more experimental: folded fabric sculptures appeared on dresses in origami like forms, a delicate take on the work jacket arrived as a sheer black cape with the arms peeping out and around necks were placed large hoop necklaces in black and some with beads
Sweet heart lined dresses with long heavy skirts closed the show, using the same grey shade to keep the professional feel. Our high-flying woman is ready for that event in her ball gown that remains refined in transition.

Madeleine Ayers on MaXhosa Knitwear
The mood from the final collection in the Ubuntu International Project afro-centric extravaganza remained true to the fierceness and powerful displays presented in the previous collections.
Emphasis this season from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University graduate Laduma Ngxokolo laid heavily on the ethnic printed knitwear. The collection, styled with ground breaking Fred Flintstone-esque boulder necklaces and camel chinos made for a highly wearable, working weekend look.

Male models were styled with animalistic undertones as they stalked the catwalk like lions in the jungle. Beaded neck braces completed the earthy undertones; highlighted with carrot oranges and sky blue button stands. An intricately woven zig zag print highlighting the orange thread topped with a double layer rocklace completed the succinct collection, a celebration of heritage and contemporary wholesomeness.
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