Information by Sasha Simon
The trend’s Eastern references paired with a Western interpretation, encompasses the celebration of the Idiomatic. While WGSN’s capsule trend has found shape purely in the Japanese aesthetic, the South African interpretation of the trend is in the majority formed by Japanese inspiration, although as already above mentioned, has extended across a broader range of Eastern cultures: the Oriental Indian aesthetic, Japanese culture, and Middle Eastern tradition. The trend explores and references Japanese floral prints and embroideries, traditional silhouette shapes such as the kimono and sari, ‘origami’ construction, Japanese inspired waist-belting, natural and layered or draped fabrics, volume, and clean lines, among other design elements common of the East.
On the SA Fashion Week S/S13 catwalk, the East-West fusion takes form in three categories or elements, namely: nostalgia, pattern, and technique, construction & silhouette. These elements mould together to shape the essence of the East-West fusion catwalk trend appropriated in South African fashion.
Suzaan Heyns was the first to introduce a Japanese nostalgia on the runway, on day 1 of SAFW with her much anticipated bridal collection featured in the TRESemmé & Motions Sheer Glamour Collections show. The image of a model gliding down the runway with an ancient Japanese inspired parasol in hand, referenced the beauty of Japanese history, while igniting an appreciation for the tiny symbols of Japanese tradition still hidden within the now booming urban culture of the Japanese empire.
Amanda Laird Cherry followed in Suzaan Heyns’ direction with reference for ancient and authentic Japanese architecture in the design of the headgear worn by the models presenting her collection down the runway. The collection further referenced Eastern culture through the element of construction. Dresses with an aesthetic alluring towards Japanese origami were seen; an aesthetic achieved through Amanda Laird Cherry’s craftsmanship in clean lines and folds.
Following Amanda Laird Cherry’s collection on the first night of SAFW, Black Coffee presented a breath-taking collection that fused an image of both tribal and Japanese beauty. While the collection was in essence inspired by a tribal aesthetic, Jacques Van der Watt explains that while the mud cloths of the Congolese Kuba tribe inspired his collection entitled Imprint, a merge between the African and Japanese aesthetic occurs naturally in his work, and his designs always create a fusion look between the two cultures. This was most clearly displayed in the opening scene of the Black Coffee show, in which two men clad in black Japanese-inspired dress, slowly made their way down the runway, leaving a trail of yellow petals along their path, and an air of Japanese naturalism filled the space of the show.
Day 2 of SAFW marked the close of the Eastern nostalgia, with designers Laz Yani for Cutterier, Anmari Honiball and the Palse Homme installation. Japanese nostalgia was concluded with Cutterier’s presentation of exquisite drapery referencing Japanese silhouettes, and nest-like headgear with further reference to Japanese naturalism, along with Anmari Honiball’s use of flatform shoes with an aesthetic alluring towards traditional Japanese footwear, termed Geta. Palse Homme presented nostalgia for the Middle East in his static menswear installation, referencing traditional Middle Eastern dress, while adorning his models with black turbans.
The East-West fusion trend incorporates Japanese inspired and Oriental florals as a dominating print, as well as embroidery this S/S13 season. The fusion ultimately creates a hybrid print design that references the naturalism and splendor of the East, while catering to Western taste. Eastern inspired floral prints and embroideries were seen on the SAFW catwalk in a wide range of designer collections, including Blaklisted, oriental embroideries in Terrence Bray’s Sheer Glamour collection, Sies! Isabelle’s Japanese inspired florals, oriental brocade prints on silks from Sober and brocade prints on menswear blazers in the Ephymol collection, and dainty floral prints from Vesselina Pentcheva in her bridal wear collection.
Technique, Construction & Silhouette
A number of collections presented over the course of SAFW found their place within the East-West fusion trend through construction and design techniques referencing the East. The reference towards Japanese origami appeared in an extensive number of collections. Such construction work is characterized my immaculate folding in craftsmanship, in conjunction with clean lines in the design of the pieces – like that already mentioned of Amanda Laird Cherry. Origami inspired pieces were seen in collections from Kottin & Twille and Black Coffee. Origami reference found expression in the form of statement origami necklaces in the Just collection (see image 22). Additional to the Japanese reference of origami, was a repeated reference towards the kimono dress, by designers such as Sies! Isabelle and Just. In a range of collections, the use of Japanese and Indian inspired drapery, pleating common of renowned Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, billowing sleeves, and fabric layering, all contributed towards creating the East-West aesthetic that paid homage to the Idiomatic celebration of Eastern style.
Joel Janse van Vuuren’s collection embraced an ancient Japanese dye technique termed Shibori (Janse van Vuuren, 2013). The result was a collection enhanced by beautiful fabrics, while exhibiting the magnificence of Japanese tradition.
Re-appropriated into the S/S13 South African fashion season, the Eastern Influence trend will be most readily adopted within contemporary and commercial womenswear. While the trend may not initially be adopted by the commercial market, fashion forward consumers will act as models for the trend off the runway, and this will thereafter trickle down into retail stores where the trend can be adopted by the commercial market in a manner that is both suitable to their taste, and to the degree at which these consumers exhibit fashion forward behavior.