IF ALL the city brights, neon pops and fluorescent hues this season are just too mind-boggling for you, then emerging Port Elizabeth designer Emma Wissink may well have the antidote by placing her focus on restful, easy-on-the eye, minimal clothing that looks to nature for inspiration.
The 22-year-old Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University fashion graduate – with a yearning for adventure and travel into the more desolate and unexplored regions of the country – showed her graduate collection at the end of last year.
"It's all about being natural, and respecting your environment," said the enthusiastic young designer whose inspiration for her eight-piece range is the isolated Karoo region of South Africa.
"The untouched beauty of its remote expanses is naturally inspiring.
"I studied fashion because I felt it was a platform for expressing my creative self while developing something practical that can bring inspiration to the daily lives of others. I like to focus on the different and on the often overlooked aspects of being African in my designs, using the heritage and stark beauty of the Karoo and other solitary regions of our country to fuel the creative process."
Wissink's predominant fabric is cotton sateen, a natural fibre woven in a luxurious manner adding a raw shine when it moves and folds.
And, further keeping her collection Karoo cool, the designer uses airy linen for the jackets and light cotton fabrics for the shirts. Colours are organic – skin, stone, sun-bleached bone – highlighted with rustic handcrafted accessories, ostrich leather and kudu suede trims and linings.
The ruffled feather effect on Wissink's showstopper evening dress was created by layering natural ostrich feathers sourced locally from AJ Pudney.
The embellishments on the knee- length shift dress were created by cracking ostrich eggs and sanding them into organic shapes.
The entrepreneurial young designer wishes to expand her fashion career by going into the retail world as a fashion buyer. She sees this as a way to influence and educate consumer choices and as a way to promote local, fair labour and environmentally friendly fashion.
"I hope to focus on ways that South African fashion specifically can reduce its impact on our beautiful environment and promote its beauty in new ways through design."