Sigh… somebody take me back to #MBFWJ (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week: Johannesburg for those who are not fashionistas). There’s just something about the air during a Fashion Week.
You walk around Sandton dressed in your finest clothes because you never know when a troupe of long-legged models wearing Beats Earphones and sunglasses might walk past you, leaving the faint scent of designer perfume lingering in the in background.
I may not be the biggest fashion lover in the country, but I enjoy the atmosphere and I would love to live their life for at least a day. The closest I’ve come so far is getting to interview fashion designers, and most recently I chatted to Irmgard Mkhabela, who got the chance to showcase at MBFWJ twice.
We had a chat about how his work is received in South Africa, how guys can get tips from his work and his impact in the industry. Here’s the quick Q&A:
With Spring very much around the corner, what inspiration were you looking to give to men who need to go shopping for the warm season in your collection?
I have used Lycra and spandex in both the light and medium weights in this collection... this can be suitable for Spring and also for, the not so warm days and nights. The collection also has the 'biker brief' underwear with the 'longer leg' for keeping warm and body shaping.
You’ve mentioned before that you’ve yet to see something “uniquely South African” on the Mzansi red carpets. What outfits do you want to see our celebs wearing?
I am looking to see trends which reflect the cultural melting pot we have come to be know - an inspired aesthetics of high design merit, neither 'Hollywoodesque' nor crafty, 'made-in-Africa' stuff.
What makes a model easy or pleasurable to work with for big events like MBFWJ?
MBFWJ has become one of the important events on the fashion calendar. So models, seasoned and aspiring new faces would like to be part of this event... this is giving designers access to the best models on offer at the time.
How often is that actually the case?
The camaraderie between designer and model must be reciprocated for mutual gain at all times... Often, 'big egos' and frustration are a deterrent.
Do you ever design your ranges with specific awards in mind?
I mostly design for special events, including weddings... I also design at leisure, (without aiming at anything) to explore and develop ideas for future projects.
Lastly, where can we find more of your work and where can we keep in touch with you online?
I have formal employment as a design lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology but, make time to create in my studio in Capital Park, Pretoria. I have little presence online, (which is a shame!). This is mainly because I was studying and did not have time to create a business out of my craft. I am now trying to make a comeback and would like to start 'setting things up', for when I can do this full time.