Sunday, 7 February 2016

Sahara Nouveau Via SA Menswear Week

(source)
Not more than four days ago, my creative design teacher expressed how lucky I was to be interested in designing menswear in this day age because of how much it's all changed since she was making men's clothes. For one, sex and gender issues are at such a fore in our popular culture that designers have more leeway to explore gender neutrality and some even moving towards postgender (Gypsy Sport comes to mind here). In addition, the idea of functionality being the defining trait of what makes menswear is taking a backseat to more notions of decorativeness and aesthetics that women's clothing fully embodies (think of the amount of prints, patterns, silhouettes available to women, versus the often solid colours and linear cuts of men's clothing).
Of course, this isn't to say that functionality is being abandoned to the scale that it often is in women's clothing. In fact, current menswear is made all the more innovative and interesting by the meeting point of aesthetic and function, or as Vogue's Maya Singer puts it: Practical Peacocking.
 
While designers use soft, girly colour palettes or maxi-skirts and assymetrical hemlines, there's a harder emphasis on straighter, harder line, dramatic movement, and toying with structural fabrics. This idea of functionality has kept more avant garde designs from appearing completely dandified or cross-dresser lite but retained a signature look exclusive to menswear. 
 
From NY Menswear Week and London Collections Men, I've seen  the Rude Boy or Dark Prince aesthetic (a la McQ Alexander McQueen and Siki Im), abstracted atheleisure, postmodern deconstruction by way of Greg Lauren and a new clean cut Mr Man look (think Public School) or a rougher, street smart prepster like the Theory or Orley man.
 
Interestingly enough, local designers at South Africa Menswear Week didn't blindly follow suit as many popular designers are prone to do. While the influence of international aesthetics like the Rude Boy and prepster could be seen, they only served to enhance an inherently South African look: a look that varied from a haute couture safari adventure from an African gaze (like Jenevieve Lyons), initiation/bush school retreats (Pilgrim), references to South Africa's huge Eastern/Arab/Persian culture (Imprint) to pop cult, Internet culture tones like in Dicker, Maxivive and Blanc.
Clockwise from top left: Dicker //  Dicker // Blanc //

Clockwise from top left: Maxivive // Augustine // Maxivive // Blanc
Clockwise from top left: Blanc // Blanc // Taf the Taylor // Jenevieve Lyons

Clockwise from top left: Jenevieve Lyons // Jenevieve Lyons / Jenevieve Lyons // Maxivive

Clockwise from top left: Maxivive // Dicker // Pilgrim // Imprint

Clockwise from top left: Imprint // Maxivive // Martin Kadinda // Martin Kadinda

Clockwise from top left: Martin Kadinda // Imprint // Augustine // Augustine // Dicker // Dicker

Martin Kadinda.
Clockwise from top left: Blanc // Pilgrim // Pilgrim // Taf the Taylor

All photos are from SDR Photo.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Do What You Want When You're Popping


A few new developments:
1. I just started fashion school.
2. I cut my own bangs a day before school started. (I have no idea if my hair will stand the constant heat.)
3. Real life is hard.

Things that have not changed:
1. Shirts are still being worn backwards, cardigans still double as V-neck tops.
2. I still only own one belt.
3. Real life is hard.


Shirt: Identity | Skirt: Mr Price
(Above is my first day of school outfit. I left my house in such a panic (late as always) and didn't notice that my prints weren't matching up in colour.)

Part of me is completely thrilled to have a reason to wear makeup every day, plan outfits the night before that I scrap each morning and actually take my hair out of its bun every morning. This part feeds into my general new beginnings, new life excitement where I'm meeting new people, creating memories and making new friends every single day. But, wow, it's exhausting being a real person.

As much as I enjoy already having a signature everyday makeup look and wearing clothes that were meant for growing, teenage girl bodies, I am so tired. Orientation Week was only three days but I feel like I've just trained for and complete the Comrade's Marathon. I am very ready to retire. I also like to dig my own grave by being my most adult self by deciding to visit the latest Museum of African Design exhibition last Thursday night. I put aside my school/real-life fatigue to enjoy walking around the gallery in a pencil skirt and discussing mise-en-scene and drinking dry white wine.

The exhibit was really cool, by the way. Unfortunately my camera died two minutes in and I couldn't capture the magic of the Angolian art on display. I do suggest that anyone in Joburg makes a visit quick, quick.
Cardigan: thrifted | Skirt: Mr Price | Socks: Factorie | Bag and Creepers: somewhere in Istanbul | Harness: Glitter Betty
For my second day of school, before I got home in this black-and-red ensemble, I wore a nondescript green t-shirt and high-waist short-shorts. I remembered that morning that I was meant to be trying minimalism out for a while. And once again it came out hella basic.
Romper: Mr Price | Harness: Glitter Betty | Belt: my dad | Jewelry: Glitter Betty | Socks: Mr Price
Day/morning three was hard on account of my having been out the night before and only coming home in the AMs (but side note: how cool am I now) (hahaha, still not very cool, I know). I wore this romper which was almost my uniform in December just because of how easy it was to wear and dress up/down.
Upon looking at these photos, I realized I was very barely trying out  a new aesthetic but updating something I'd already done before (bangs, backwards shirts, high hemlines).

 Anyway, I should probably be preparing for school or whatever tomorrow.
Also, I think I deserve major daps for not titling this post "This Ain't High School" or including Nicki Minaj's High School or Beyoncé's Schooling Life.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Confessions of a Maximalist

black girl with purple yarn braids in a satin t-shirt dress
A long time ago, I could've been a billionaire if I had received a dollar for every time I'd ever exclaimed, "I have nothing to wear," while staring into my perpetually overflowing, disorganised wardrobe of clothes dating back to before I was born. I would push aside twelve pairs of jeans to look at thirty variations of the same top and sigh, I would try on five or so tank tops and wonder why it was so difficult for me to get dressed. It wasn't so much that I had nothing to wear but everything I owned was basic, tacky or ridiculously overdone. I mean, how was I supposed to stand out when I continually wound up in a pedestrian combination of jeans and a t-shirt, or an a-line skirt and ballet flats. 

This was made all the more difficult by the walk, walk, fashion baby fashion rags I kept in every corner of my bedroom. The sparkly girls in those pages came alive in all kinds of wild prints, new age silhouettes and effortless effortful proportion play. Man, I wanted so bad to be one of those fashion girls. There was something about being the kind of girl who wore three different plaid-pattern items in contrasting and clashing colours that meant you got to be the kind of girl who could describe every night of her life as the time of her life.

Eventually, I figured out the secrets of those almost-mythical creatures: all their dressing decisions were made on the shop floor, not their hideously carpeted bedroom floors (I finally got wood ones a year before we moved to nondescript tiled-ness). So I vowed that I would never again buy anything that could be described as a "wardrobe staple" or a "basic". Right now, any tank top or camisole I own belongs to my sister or my mom. I have maybe two pairs of everyday jeans and I've had them since 2013. You'll be very hard pressed to spot a blazer, tailored trousers, a little black dress or a "classic" white dress shirt in my wadrobe. (I mean, you might find it because I'm a chronic hoarder but you're gonna have to reeeeally look because I'm a chronic hoarder.) Instead you will find all manner of bright and bold patterns and prints, loud pops of colour and night-time-y fabrics and silhouettes.

And I got to be one of those fashion girls for a while. For a long while, actually. (My mom still rolls her eyes when I frown at the pretty-girl-things she offers to me or shows me when she's we're shopping.) And then minimalism became a thing again and I started to look at my 50 million prints, textures and cuts, and I became that Drake from three years ago. I was not at a higher place. And now I was presented with a new problem: these fashion girls were dressed in the same "staples" and "basics" I had foresaken yet there was nothing ordinary about their outfits. Some of these girls were literally in jeans and a t-shirt, or straight line dresses and ballet flats or (what I can only describe as) a cloth and I once again had nothing to wear.

For a while, this was something at the back of my mind. I had a series of aesthetics that worked for me and which I loved and I could be happy that way. But part of maximalism also grew out of the frustration of having to wear the same thing - in neutrals no less - every day for the past five years. But now that school uniform is no longer a thing, I'm dying for something consistent and easy to rely on. I can't deal with the concept of exclaiming "I have nothing to wear" on a daily, instead of weekends only.

I'm, what, two years too late but teetering into minimalism.
black girl with purple yarn braids in a satin t-shirt dress
T-shirt/dress: work in progress Glitter Betty: | Socks: Mr Price | Boots: thrifted/Hot Topic.
(Lol: this t-shirt/dress was the result of 32 hours of no sleep, an over-heating sewing machine and a desire to rid myself of all the fabric I'd bought a year ago and hadn't touched. But I'm pleasantly surprised at how my sloppy satin and mesh combo came out and might sincerely pursue it at a later date. What do you think?)
black girl with purple yarn braids in a satin t-shirt dress
black girl with purple yarn braids in a satin t-shirt dress
black girl with purple yarn braids in a satin t-shirt dress
black girl with purple yarn braids in a satin t-shirt dress
black girl with purple yarn braids in a satin t-shirt dress

PS. Does anyone who does't/hasn't/no longer wear a uniform have any tips for trying to look, at least, half-human on the daily? Please and thank you.
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