Cultural Influences inspire contemporary designers
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The Afro-bohemian frocks of fashion designer Palesa Mokubung have been part of the Daimler Contemporary Art exhibition in Berlin.
How cultural influences inspire contemporary South African designers can be seen in the garments of Stoned Cherrie’s Nkhensani Nkosi. Her local fashion range won commercial and critical acclaim for its Sophiatown-inspired outfits and T-shirts featuring cover stars from Drum magazine – inspired without doubt by South African culture as well as the country’s heritage and history.
Many other contemporary designers interpret culture using home-grown inspiration as their creative fuel. Designer Chris Vogelpoel has subtly yet stylish incorporated the humanitarian legacy of Nelson Mandela into the trendy unisex clothing line, 46664 Apparel, launched recently.
Founded in Cape Town, the Darkie Clothing label is the work of Themba Mngomezulu, who turned a passion for recycling clothes into a major local fashion brand inspired by South African township and youth culture. Signature designs include skirts made from ties and the Afro-comb accessory.
The couture of Jacques van der Watt of Black Coffee is not a literal interpretation of the African cultural aesthetic. Rather it is revealed in draping and in the materials that he uses to create his super-modern silhouettes. Black Coffee’s Everyone Can Be a Designer Dress has become an iconic South African glamour garment.
Another cultural influence on contemporary designers is African art and craft. Ruby designer Robyn Lidsky uses inspiration from African beading to create her best-selling earrings and necklaces - the latest range incorporates African gemstones.
Mantsho couture (Mantsho meaning: ‘brutally black‘) is the work of the hugely talented Palesa Mokubung, whose work is influenced by spirituality, love, sex, war and South Africa. Dresses, coats and harem pants are executed in spectacular Dutch wax prints, with subtle '50s shapes and modern details such as hoods and cowls.
Contemporary designer Laduma Ngxokolo has found a way to translate patterns from Xhosa culture into his knitwear designs. Inspired by his heritage and the Xhosa coming of age ritual which encourages boys to destroy their old clothing once initiated, Ngxokolo is a good example of how cultural influences inspire contemporary designers.
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