This year’s MBFW Cape Town was the first I’ve missed in its entirety. Not sure if it’s just that time of year but many of us were just ‘not feeling it’ and decided to wait out the biting cold wind and sheets of rain that blanketed this Mother City of ours in warm, wood fired bars and salons of the fashionable watering holes. There is one party however that wasn’t to be missed. Not just because it was the hottest ticket in town but a celebration of friendship and a chance to be part of South African fashion history.
This season, KLûKCGDT reaffirmed their place at the very top of South Africa’s fashion totem-pole showcasing their continued evolution and humour by turning their show into a celebration of art and fashion. Commissioning three limited-edition prints from nine hand-picked photographers that were exhibited on the night alongside the installations. KLûK explains: “The brief was completely open. We wanted them to be creative without any commercial restraint. Call it our Andy Warhol/Factory moment! A unique experience, a celebration of beauty and a departure from the mundane” is what designers Malcolm KLûK and Christiaan Gabriël Du Toit set out to create with KLûK CGDT’s show at AFI’s Spring/Summer 2016 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town this Saturday past as they hosted nearly 400 of South Africa’s great and good at the discretely hidden CAAM Gallery in De Waterkant for a collaborative fashion event with Levi’s.
While the other big name of the day went for theatricality in the morning (serving sponsored vodka at 10 am to the already hung-over fashionista and blogger wannabe crowd nogal), The KLûK Boys always innovate and change the presentation game for their collections. This season, the artisanal quality of fashion was important to them, the couture, the exclusive, the luxury, the made-to-order aspect of it, which is what KLûKCGDT is all about. It made sense to play with the idea of art and create an exhibition that would last longer than a catwalk show.” Hence Artisan, the name they chose for the collection.
Having recently travelled to Tokyo as part of their long-time partnership with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the 31 looks which were inspired by the Land of the Rising Sun naturally all have a strong Asian influence although the feel is more one of holiday and resort dressing. Including reimagined kimono gowns and jackets, kaftans and boxy shapes to offset ’50s-style slim-fit pencil skirts and cigarette pants, it was the ballerina skirt not seen for a while and a flared coatdress which further echoed this era. Refreshingly as I was paging through their lookbook, the colour palette ranged from burgundy through grape and tobacco to coral, all used in conjunction with Levi’s denim which is a first for haute couture Maison.
For the fabrics, the designers worked with imported silkscreened satin, burnt-out velvet, brocade, guipure lace, crêpe and bouclé – and of course, Levi’s denim. Says KLûK, “Ours has been a long love affair with denim. Our very first collection, before we ever produced anything under the KLûK CGDT label, was a 10-piece range to complement Levi’s’ denim. We believe that this will be a ‘denim season’ and the opportunity to reimagine this timeless fabric in our way was too good to pass up.”
Interestingly with so much happening in the world of denim, and the constant need to be ‘fresh’ and ‘appealing’ it was Candace Gilowey, Levi’s marketing manager for Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan, nugget of insight when she declared that the timing was perfect [for this collaboration] as it coincides with the global launch of Levi’s’ new women’s collection using the latest fabric innovations and slimming technologies, the most advanced stretch and recovery denim, and signature Levi’s details and finishes.
The Levi’s designs incorporated in the collection are from the brand’s original Red Tab and its young, progressive Black Tab ranges. KLûK and Du Toit used bleaching, painting and deconstructing techniques to reimagine the Red Tab Levi’s Originals pieces, saying, “It was amazing to play with the machines in Levi’s factory.” When not remodelling Levi’s pieces, KLûKCGDT created original designs using Levi’s denim.
Others who contributed to the glamorous event are Orms’ Mike Ormerod, who assisted with the printing and mounting of the photographs; CAAM Gallery that hosted the event; three fully-stocked bars by Tanqueray, the world’s finest gin, which kept guests going throughout the evening along with Vita Coco fresh coconut water; Vagabond Kitchens who created seriously cool sliders and fries to continue the Factory feel. Beats by DJ Dario Leite further set the tone.