Four days, 14 shows, 40 designers and 50 exhibitors, have given the Durban Fashion Fair (DFF) a whole new status in South Africa’s world of fashion.
 
Wowed by sophisticated elegance, cheeky casuals and swimwear, show stopping gowns that gave new meaning to Afro glamour and even a glimpse at trendy gear for tiny tots courtesy of Karen Monk-Klijnstra, the City’s dignitaries and fashionistas as well as retailers, buyers and fashion media from across the world were certainly not disappointed.
 
The DFF, the brain child of the eThekwini Municipality’s Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit, has not only set out to give Durban and its designers a presence in local and international fashion circles but also to both inspire and provide 10 selected young designers with an opportunity to acquire new business oriented skills and win a three month internship in Milan, one of Europe’s fashion capitals.
 
Fashion can be over-the-top or comfortably commercial and is certainly governed by personal taste and strong opinions. Yet, the big names of South African fashion never held back and it was difficult to pick out show stoppers at this year’s DFF. Of course, award winning designer David Tlale made a strong statement with an offsite show in front of the Durban City Hall on Saturday afternoon, showcasing men’s wear that echoed a trend throughout the DFF. As Italian stylist and fashion guru, Helene Blignaut, pointed out last year, Durban could transform into a centre of excellence when it comes to masculine style.
 
Established designers Paledi Segapo (Palse Homme) and Thokozani Mbatha (Black Pepper which also goes by the name Poivre Noir) also claimed an on-trend slot in this arena. Emerging and young design brands such as Nguni Shades, Tribal Skin, Drive Fashion, Duke and Gravitie also add a new edge to men’s fashion.
 
Fantastically feminine was always centre stage – nothing else could be expected from Kathrin Kidger, Terrence Bray, Craig Jacobs, Colleen Eitzen, Gavin Rajah, Leigh Schubert and Zama Mathe (Zarth) whose vintage elegance turned many heads. Also noteworthy was the spring / summer collection by Jacqui Emmanuel, one of the emerging designers who also showed a collection at SA Fashion Week earlier this year.
 
Durban designer Jean-Paul Botha, whose brand goes by the moniker Ruff Tung, added a fascinating touch of the Orient with a collection that explored the yin and yang of masculine and feminine, combining stripes and florals,blues and vibrant pinks with distinctive design elements such as Chinese collars.
 
Gert-Johan Coetzee, known for dressing VIP’s on red carpets and even ‘A’ list celebrities such as Kourtney Kardasian and Kristen Cavallari, quite literally added some “spike” to a spectacular collection.
 
However, the best was undoubtedly kept for last on the big night when Mina Evens from Ghana displayed her unique take of West African stylishness and an edgy Diego M capsule collection of outerwear created by respected Italian designer Diego Mazzi and his wife and business partner, Manuela Bortolameolli, took to the ramp. Durban saw urban chic like never before with exotic materials such as rich orange stretch leathers, a coco-printed nappa that produced a mother-of-pearl glassy effect and leather with a metallic mosaic that reflected silver and champagne tones. Intricate detailing and superb tailoring, crafting and finishing completed the picture.
 
Diego M creations can be found in prestigious boutiques in Europe, Russia and the United States. The brand’s own style centre is located in Lazise, on the banks of Lake Garda in Milan. Speaking after the show, Mazzi was enthusiastic about the talent and passion of South African designers and the beauty of the City of Durban.
 
The partners have identified Africa as an exciting new market and said that after their visit to the DFF, they would pursue an opportunity to open a South African boutique.
 
For more information please contact Thabo Mofokeng on 031 311 4820/ 0827317456 or email: thabo1.mofokeng@durban.gov.za.
 
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality's Communications Unit. Contact Sane Shandu on 031 311 4806/072 572 8658 or email: sanelisiwe.shandu@durban.gov.za