STUDENT design is all about pushing boundaries and breaking down conventional barriers to fulfil and flaunt fashion fantasies. And the annual Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s graduate catwalk show was no exception as 17 final-year designers served up a tantalising glimpse into the future. Friday night’s collective student fashion extravaganza – staged at the university’s Goldfields Auditorium – provided a scintillating showcase for the Friendly City’s emerging design talent.
From the funky Free Creative Ancient Aliens themed opener to the marvellous mohair showpieces – a teaser for this week’s Mohair Summit – the fledgling designers wowed the crowd with their fantabulous mix of avant-garde style.
Upping the ante from previous years – when staid tailoring methods sometimes cramped more adventurous designers’ style – the third-year students pulled out all the stops to impress judges and industry professionals Joel Basson (design executive, House of Monatic), Kelly Fung (fashion director, Marie-Claire) and former NMMU graduate and acclaimed Amaxhosi knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo.
Each delightfully different from the other, the eight-garment-ranges were based on research through "the written word”.
Garments varied from quirky casuals to military greatcoats, dramatic eveningwear and chunky mohair knits – even fine tailoring, with a trendy twist, of course!
Some designs popped, like Lebohang Moqolosane’s infusion of Basotho mural art and Tlhalefang Mooketsi’s funky "solar flare” creations inspired by Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Others sizzled, as in winning designer Megan du Plessis’ sci-fi fantasy collection fired by Court of the Air – a mystical tale set in a Victorian "steampunk” locale.
Du Plessis created sumptuous period-inspired ensembles, with a futuristic feel – for guys and girls – in eye-popping colour combos intricately detailed with brocade insets, buttons and leather.
Other top looks included runner-up Carla Vermaak’s moody witchcraft-themed range in black velvet, lace and flowing chiffon – aptly trimmed with crow and raven feathers – triggered by The Crucible and its 17th century Salem witch trials.
Mieke Barnard’s black and burgundy collection was influenced by the work of South African poet Ingrid Jonker. Barnard was named best technical student for her sewing and pattern-cutting skills. Tlhalefang Mooketsi nabbed the top prize for her mohair collection, followed by Carla Vermaak (second) and Megan du Plessis (third).