CHULAAP caters for the woman

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Fashion Designer Chu Suwannapha debuted his label CHULAAP about two years ago at the inaugural South African Menswear Week (SAMW). The unisex range was a meeting of his Eastern (Suwannapha is from Thailand) and African roots (he is based in Cape Town).

Resulting in a kaleidoscope of beautifully tailored clashing African prints in origami-like shapes. The collection was a hit that received rave reviews both locally and internationally. His creative eye for design and experience in the fashion industry is evident in each piece, making his carefully curated runway shows stand out. Suwannapha who is affectionately known as the “Prince of Prints” launched his debut ready-to-wear womenswear collection this week. I speak to him about the collection.

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So Chu, what pieces make up the collection for CHULAAP’s Cruise? Well, for a start I’m not working with the Wax Prints as I usually do. The prints I have used for this collection are more contemporary and graphic – they’re Afro Pop.

“The prints are 3D and create an optical illusion with a lot of depth and dimension. I love to play with graphic lines, like the diamond shapes and the Op Art bubbles which make each piece come to life. And the colour palette I’ve chosen is monochrome and shades of blue”

The collection comprises of 17 styles including skirts, a shirtdress, trenchcoat, culottes and more – of which all are timeless and effortless pieces which will suit all different occasions. It’s a mix of feminine styles plus boy meets girl, which is both clean and modern.

What are the designs inspired by? This ready-to-wear womenswear collection is inspired by the everyday African woman, and combines a 1950s feminine silhouette and graphic prints with an oriental twist. Each piece can be worn separately or combined to make a modern statement with head-to-toe prints.

 

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“Fashion should always be effortless and practical and that’s why I’ve designed beautiful garments to flatter and celebrate the African woman, who is looking for key pieces that highlight both her spirit and individuality with vibrant flair”

Why the move to womenswear? Is the approach, design-wise, different for designing womenswear than menswear clothing? I’ve wanted to create a womenswear collection for a while now, and now seemed like the perfect opportunity. My designs are always very straight forward with a twist of oriental – I like that what you see, is what you get. And my philosophy is that dressing is not about impressing the person next to you. It should be about adding personality and confidence to oneself. So my signature style didn’t change at all – you can still tell that it’s the same ‘men’s’ designer who has created this womenswear range. The only differences are the Lady Like 1950s-inspired top, dresses and skirts.

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Who is the CHULAAP Cruise Collection woman? The CHULAAP Cruise Collection is aiming for the broader audiences and who’s not afraid to wear graphic prints. It’s bold but basic. I want my audience to feel pretty and sophisticated with a sense of modern femininity and sexiness when they are wearing CHULAAP.

Where do you find inspiration? Do you take design cues from outside the fashion world? I get inspired from what I see or hear around me every day such as art, culture, architecture, politics and nature. I don’t stick to one thing. I mix them together to be one story.

“Sometimes you need to create your own inspirations, like making a story board”

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Last words? I’m so excited to bring my womenswear collection to market. As a designer, you put your all into your range and it’s been an incredible journey – one that I’m very proud of. Who knows what’s next. I heard someone the other day comment that it would be great to own some CHULAAP Homeware watch this space.

* Shop the CHUULAAP’s Cruise Collection by Chu Suwannapha at https://www.spree.co.za./

Connect with me on Instagram @Nontando58: https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en

See more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style-beauty/fashion-trends-for-summer-inspired-by-local-designers-2044424

 

SA Menswear Week, highlights so far.

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A Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha design  showcased at Season 1. Photo by SIMON DEINER/SDR

Seeing a gap in the fast-growing category of menswear, fashion photographer Simon Deiner and businessman Ryan Beswick developed a platform that is now responsible for promoting menswear designers in Africa. Entering its fifth season, the LEXUS SA Menswear Week (Lexus SAMW AW’17) is the only menswear-focused fashion week on the continent.

Over the past four seasons, we have had an opportunity to witness some of the best in menswear by both emerging and established designers from around Africa, some of whom have gone on to gain international exposure. Rich Mnis, Jenevieve Lyons, Chu Suwannapha, Craig Jacobs, Orange Culture and Laduma Ngxokolo are now recognised internationally.
My highlights include the debut range of Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha showcased at season one. The styling, design and the prints show Suwannapha’s artistic aesthetic and his love for the colourful African continent.

Lukhanyo Mdingi’s androgynous collection of dark navy, blue and black made up of sheer silk and denim separates from season two remain fresh in my mind. The range brought forth the growing trend of gender-fluid fashion. The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters and Jod Paulsen (AKJP) from season three showed that a meeting of two creative minds can lead to magic.

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A design by Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture by : SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
For Deiner, there have been many highlights: “I remember the first season where we did a team photo at the end and there were about 50 people involved. And when we took the group photo at the SS17 collections last July we had just over 150 people in the pic. “Other highlights have been watching our young designers shine and grow into proper household names and along the way start businesses. I have also enjoyed seeing how men in general now perceive the concept of wearing locally made clothing as something they are proud to do,” Deiner says.
A lot of hard work and dedication are necessary for a designer to stand out from a saturated industry competing against cheap imports and fast fashion. Funding, production and affordable and quality fabrics are just some of the challenges that our young designers are facing, which play a hand in preventing them from maintaining profitable businesses.
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Kim Gush by SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
Kim Gush, owner and designer of Kim Gush apparel, adds: “I think local consumers still love to compare designers to big retailers, especially where price is concerned. We are still constantly faced with the snub at our price tags… consumers forget that the items aren’t mass produced, therefore you are receiving a unique piece. And at the same time you are supporting our local manufacturing industry – which to be honest, needs every tiny purchase to try to revive it.
“Buying local means you are helping in developing and bringing our industry to those ‘international’ levels you so dearly desire as well as keeping jobs going,” she says. “Take the time to get to know all those brands you watch at fashion week. A lot of people are just there for the social, but they forget the heart and soul that goes into every garment presented, the dreams the designers have for this industry to flourish,” she says. 
For Suwannapha, who will not be showcasing at Lexus SAMW AW’17, the fabrication and the manufacturing are problematic. “Hopefully, some of the courier companies will work with fabrics agencies towards bringing fabrics to minimal costs, or I might have to live with the high labour costs as long as I’m producing in South Africa,” he says. “(This year) is all about expanding and building my brand. Collaboration will be a part of my brand’s personality, which will be coming soon and will be available online in South Africa,” Suwannapha says.
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The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters and Jod Paulsen from season three. Picture: SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
One of the youngest showcasing designers, Mzukisi Mbane of Imprint, adds: “When it comes to fashion week, I think we all take away what we want from it.“The fashion week benefits should always extend beyond the applause after a runway show. For instance, you get an opportunity to sell yourself to a wide audience that you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. “After my first runway show, I got invited to go to Ghana then Nigeria… I was instantly not just a South African brand, but a recognised African brand,”says Mbane.
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A Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane design. Picture by SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
On what to expect at his showcase next week: “The collection is based on a fictional character I created. It’s an Ndebele man who decided to leave home and travel the world.
“The collection includes a lot of colour, oversized silhouettes, genderfluid pieces. Which is truly the Imprint Afro futuristic aesthetic… it expresses a free spirit which challenges made-up perfection. “As the collection is titled “I couldn’t be bothered”, one will take away whatever they want from the collection… and that will be okay,” he adds.
LEXUS SA Menswear Week will take place at The Palms in Woodstock on February 3 and 4 2017.
Tickets are available at http://www.webtickets.co.za.For a full schedule see : http://www.menswearweek.co.za/
See more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter: @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en

This piece was first published in the Weekend Argus (Sunday) on January 29 2017. 

New Month, Fresh Start.

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Hello December!!! As I welcome my favourite month beacuse it’s my birthday month and it means Summer is officially here!  I started a new journey today, as the Fashion and Beauty Editor for the Independent Media group…my dream job fam. I am so grateful and excited for the future;-)

So… naturally, I had to SLAY on my first day at the job. #NontandoWoreWhat 

Top by H&M South Africa 

Pants by Top Shop 

Socks are by Happy Socks the “Local Hero” edition

Shoes by Steve Madden

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The pictures are by Tracey Adams 

Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58

Reflecting the times, refreshing fashion

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Fashion designer Rich Mnisi is one of South Africa’s celebrated talents in the fashion industry. Launching his brand “Oath” soon after being announced as one of the winners of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg AFI Fastrack in 2014, Mnisi may be a newcomer to this competitive industry, but his brand is well-respected – at home, in Africa and overseas. I speak to him about his journey and SS’17 collection.

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What sparked your interest in fashion? My whole family has some sort of interest in fashion, particularly my sister. Watching her prepare to go out was absolutely incredible. She’d take time to do her hair, make-up and style her look, and if she didn’t like something about the way she looked she would just alter the clothing on the spot.

“The proportions and moods I explore come from my mother and the need to push the envelope comes from my sister”

What made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it? It was when I learned about Lisof Fashion School and what it had to offer. I never saw fashion as a viable career option, it always felt so glamorous and bizarre. But exploring the business side of it was enlightening.

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How has your work evolved since you started your own label? I can’t be specific as it has been a gradual growth. The brand is gradually growing into its own attitude and style. Does your approach differ when designing menswear compared to womenswear? No, I approach them the same way.Usually something intended for a man ends up on a woman and vice versa.

What is your creative process? Music is at the beginning of it all. I let the music I listen to lead the way – define the proportions, mood and colours. Then link all of that with the inspiration of the collection.

How do influences from outside South Africa find their way into your work? It’s the time I’m in, information is everywhere. My work is conversation driven. All the conversations I have with my friends and myself influence my work.

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What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work? The beauty in blackness. I almost apply a Solange Knowles: for us by us approach.

Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection? Not necessarily, it needs to come naturally. I don’t start a new collection unless I know what I’m trying to say through it.

“The research process comes with the Reflecting the times, topic at hand and they can’t all be tackled the same”

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company? That I’ll never stop learning. It’s not as easy as it looks. It’s a very complex industry; you almost need to stop thinking about it too hard to make the best decisions.

“The support for young designers could definitely be better, but it’s also on the young designers to educate themselves and find a means to communicate their ideas”

I’ve also had to learn about the business. Sometimes creative meets corporate and the two need to work together. I still go 60 percent creative and 40 percent corporate, for my sanity.

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How would you describe your design aesthetic? It’s a reflection of time, and it develops as time develops. Do you feel there’s significant interest in young designers? Definitely, I think young designers stripped fashion of its glamour and tackled it in an honest way.

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Who inspires you the most in fashion? My peers: Orange Culture, Tzar, Lukhanyo Mdingi, Nicholas Coutts, Jenevieve Lyons, Nao Serati, Thebe Magugu, Selfie, Young & Lazy, Tsepo Tsotetsi, AKEDO. Describe the person you have in mind when you design? A curious mind, a fashion enthusiast, a traveller.

What’s your motto? The philosophy stems from the need to remind people of the importance of expression and not feeling lost in a world of globalisation and trends, but to use this more exposed world as your motivation to live fully.

“It’s about being unapologetic about your stance and knowing that it may never be accepted by many, but as long as you do it well it will translate”

What’s next? Our A/W 17 Collection

● Shop Rich Mnisi’s collection at  Rich Mnisi  or at . Spree

Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram @Nontando58

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus  on November 30 2016 

Floral Couture

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FLOWER HEAD: Model Samira Ako Manieson of Full Circle Models, who is wearing a dress by Jacques LaGrange Couture. Her makeup is by M.A.C Cosmetics. Pictures by  Cindy Waxa. 

Flowers remain a central element for most spring and summer collections. For many years fashion designers have taken inspiration from flowers to create dreamy haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces.

Seen on runways, florals are no longer restricted to prints on garments: designers are complementing their designs with extravagant headpieces as seen recently at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Joburg.

This is currently a big trend, here at home as well as abroad. Designers such as Dutch luxury fashion house Viktor & Rolf impressed with their 2015 spring and summer collection that styled with elaborate floral embellishments.

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Viktor & Rolf impressed with their 2015 spring and summer collection that styled with elaborate floral embellishments.

Stellenbosch floral stylist extraordinaire Alwijn Burger says it is about time
that flowers were no longer reserved for just the garden or for weddings. Known as Blomboy, Burger has made a name for himself in the niche market as the talent behind surreal floral arrangements worn as headpieces and beautiful arrangements at events of all kinds.

In the past months, he has collaborated with a number of fashion designers, creating floral arrangements that add pizzazz to their showcases. Burger’s work is not limited to flower
accessory pieces for women, he also makes quirky pieces for men.

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I meet Burger at couture designer Jacques LaGrange’s studio in Sea Point where he meticulously creates an extravagant headpiece to go with a daring thigh-baring metallic
dress by LaGrange.

Working on leggy model Samira Ako-Manieson of Full Circle Model Management, he uses tropical leaves and calla lilies to create a leafy and dramatic piece which he describes as
“modest”.

Since the metallic gown already commands attention, Burger had to make sure that the
headpiece did not take away from the glamorous gown.

His process is organic; taking into consideration the dress and model, he plucks and twists and the floral piece comes to life effortlessly. 

The entire process takes just under 15 minutes.

“It’s about time that the meeting of fashion and flowers is becoming a big thing. Flowers have always been the Cinderella of the accessories: they have not been given enough prominence.

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“Also I think we take flowers for granted as we are used to having them in our gardens. We tend not to appreciate them as much. However, we are catching on to the international trend where flowers are a timeless sort of thing… I hope the trend is here to stay.

“Instead of wearing your usual hat or fascinator that will cost you hundreds of rand, why not do a floral fascinator or piece? It’s not expensive; the bunch of flowers that I used on Ako-Manieson were only R350 and it will make your outfit stand out more,”he says.

Although Burger’s love for flowers began as a child, he fell into his now career purely by chance, after landing a job as a clerk at a flower shop in the UK, where he learnt as much as he could about flowers.

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“Flowers are here today and gone tomorrow… they are not an investment but meant to be enjoyed,” adds Burger.

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Connect at blomboy.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: theblomboy

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: @Nontando58

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on November 9 2016. 

 

Nontando Wore What?

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I recently did a studio shoot with photographer Tracey Adams. We had a whole concept planned beforehand that included amazing makeup artistry but the plan fell apart at the last minute. The shoot went ahead and we managed to pull it off to produce some of our best work so far;-)

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If you follow me on social media you will know that I am a big Adidas fan and I am obsessed with socks. Combining the two, I came up with this clean and sassy looks.

TRA_5815.JPG I am a advocate of Proudly South African designers and African designers in general. Here I am wearing a gorgeous dress by Rich Mnisi that is available at Spree:  https://www.spree.co.za/

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I love everything about this shot. The Basotho traditional hat was just genius.

Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58. 

Summer SS/16 top hot trends

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Photographer-Tracey Adams

Summer is here and it’s time to switch up your wardrobe with some of the season’s hottest looks. From sequins, quirky t-shirts to breezy dresses and playful jumpsuits. Here are  key Spring/Summer 2016 fashion trends and palettes for you to use as your style guide. We have also included two retailers that are trending right now for affordable and stylish shopping.

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Stylist and lifestyle blogger, Saarahjasmin Nwajei wears a dress by Genesis Style  paired with accessories from Fifth Avenue Collection.  Hair: By Isis Hair Africa

Floral: The floral trend is forever evolving and continues to be one of the favourites for the hot summer months. Floral printed pants, jumpsuits and dresses in bright colours are perfect for a playful and romantic look.

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Jane Folodi wears a short and sleeveless printed jumpsuit from H&M South Africa. Hair: By Isis Hair Africa

Jumpsuit: Jumpsuits are here to stay. This one-step outfit seamlessly
works for the office and for evening cocktails depending on the style
and length.

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 Jane Folodi and I  are twinning in baby pink dresses from H&M South Africa and platform shoes from Dolce Vita Shoes.

Twinning Trend : Twinning (the bearing of twins) or wearing matchy-matchy ensembles are popular with besties, mothers and daughters and even lovers.  Celebrities such as Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy  are leading the way turning up  at events head-to-toe identically clothed.  There’s a fine line between cute and corny when it comes to this trend, make sure your outfits are not too busy with too much colour or accessories but keep it to the minimal with solid colours and simple accessories.

4 Jane Folodi.JPGJane Folodi is wearing a sequins skirt from H&M South Africa, the t-shirt, cap and gold metallic sneakers are from Mr Price.

Sequins: Sparkly and colourful sequins decorating skirts, dresses and even pants are hot right now.For those who are not afraid to stand-out, match your sequins to a basic, classic or generally very easy piece of clothing with quirky t-shirts and clashing textures such
as denim or leather.

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Dunns Clothing #WHOWEARE capsule collection

Affordable fashion retailer Dunns recently launched their S/S16 pan-african inspired and locally designed capsule range named ,’Who We Are’ (#WHOWEARE).Inspired by the country and continent’s rich melting pot of cultures.The collection features distinctive designs; some indigenous to the continent such as the ankara print, others created specially for this collection and all reflecting the diversity of African heritage.
The Who We Are collection will be available at Dunns stores throughout South Africa. More more information or to locate your nearest store,
visit www.dunns.co.za.

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Supré:  Australian-born youth fashion brand, Supré opened it’s first South African store in Cavendish Square in Cape Town last week. This will be followed by two others in Centurion Mall in Pretoria this month and Menlyn Park Shopping Centre in Johannesburg in November. The brand’s must-have Luxe collection, which embodies the ritual of getting ready with the girls includes this season pastel colours of – powder pinks, mints. Styles of whites choker crops, cute shorts, criss-cross camis and major midis.
Follow SUPRÉ
Instagram: @supre_instagram
Snapchat: supresnap

Credits:
All pictures by Tracey Adams (except for the Dunns and Supré images)
Hair: By Isis Hair Africa – www.isishairafrica.co.za or 082 900 5338
Makeup:  Ederees Abrahams
Shoes: Dolce Vita Shoes. www.dolcevita.co.za
H&M South Africa: www.hm.com/za
Mr Price: www.mrp.com

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: @Nontando58

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on October 12 2016.