Wednesday the 3rd of February 2016 saw the kick off of yet another successful SA Menswear Week. After a week of long queues, hundreds of hopeful models, panels of judges, taking measurements, callbacks, fittings, second callbacks and patiently waiting for our agents to call with the news that we have made the show. Even though this was my 3rd SA Menswear Week, I still found the whole casting processing pretty nerve wrecking.
I was fortunate enough to walk for 6 Top African designers namely: Martin Kadinda, Taf the Taylor and Maxivive on the opening night and Nguni Shades, Abrantie the Gentleman and Mustafa Hassanali on the 3rd night.
Fashion week is organised chaos as I like to call it. Backstage is flooded with artists, designers, photographers, hair & Make up, event organisers, models and a few people that nobody knows who they are but they look important so you can imagine the amount of people buzzing around the place. Personally I love it. There’s never a dull moment and theres always a vibe going on. Music pumping, lots of camera flashes going off, you never know whose taking the picture or of whom… It’s kind of like a night club where everyone’s sober but high on life.
The atmosphere during the build-up was electric as usual. You could feel the nerves backstage as designers made the final preparations and alterations on their garments. Fresh faced models practicing their walks not only to make sure they didn’t mess up or trip but also to calm their nerves. Most times the walks are fairly complicated and if you are doing 5 shows a night you tend to forget and nobody wants to be “that guy” whose messes up. With all sorts of different emotions going on, it was time for months of planning to go into action. The anticipation of the crowd grew stronger as more and more guests made way to their reserved seating.
5 minute call! We got dressed and made our way to line up. Cameras flashing, final hair and makeup checks, music came on with a blast and it was time to walk. Coming out onto the runway is always a rush. To go out there in front of the who’s who of the African Fashion Industry and all fashion lovers, letting them get a first-hand look at the culmination of creativity and inspiration of designers who have manufactured and manipulated garments perfectly to fit the body.
We sell the design by the way you walk, the way you look and the attitude behind who you are for those 30 seconds.
At this point in my career I revel in this sort of environment. You get to release yourself in one simple motion that you have done all your life. Some say it’s easy and anybody could do it, but i beg to differ. Not knowing who is looking at you while you keep your eyes fixated on the end of the runway. Exiting the stage door and hoping someone in the crowd likes you and sees the potential for you to be in their upcoming campaign is all too exciting.
Now that I have seen everything from the runway, backstage to the street style pictures, my favourite moments include; Nicola Cooper’s trends talk presentation! I learned so much about Men’s fashion and the froth thereof. It is one of the fastest growing ecommerce sectors in the world. Men are becoming interested in their appearances more than ever and menswear is having so much fun. Black dog, Adriaan & Jody Paulsen, Jeneieve Lyons, Augustine, Lukhanyo Mdingi & Nicholas Coutts, Rich Mnisi, Craig Port, Palse Homme, Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha and Orange culture’s clothes will influence my choices long after fashion week. Maybe it’s because I had a first-hand experience of the feel and fit of Abrantie the gentleman, Taf the Taylor and Martin Kadinda’s garments but they happen to be my favourite shows.
Walking out in the finale for multiple award winning Ghanaian men’s wear designer Abrantie the gentlemen for Ayeyi (“AYEYI” meaning praise in an Akan language in Ghana.The collection inspired by the free purity of God to mankind.) was definitely the highlight for me. All dressed in white waving a white flag. I felt it was very powerful! Waving a white flag is a sign of peace!
I am honoured to have been part of other successful menswear week, big thanks to everyone involved and we look forward to the next bigger and better show.