Womenswear Designers To Catch At South African Fashion Week

On The Catwalk | © Micadew via Flickr
On The Catwalk | © Micadew via Flickr
Photo of Lee-Shay Collison
10 September 2016

South African Fashion Week is set to showcase Autumn/Winter 2017 collections of top designers from around the country later this month. The Culture Trip spoke to several womenswear designers about the inspiration behind their latest sizzling collections. Read on and discover the shows that are not to be missed at Hyde Park Corner, Johannesburg from September 20th to the 24th.

Vintage Zionist

Founded by Oscar Ncube and Mandy Newman in 2013, Vintage Zionist is inspired by rock ‘n’ roll music and the lifestyle that comes with it. With a focus on grunge looks in a palette of black and white, the brand has adopted the leather jacket as their pièce de résistance, or core item, around which their women’s and men’s collections are based.

For their Autumn/Winter ‘17 collection, Vintage Zionist will be focusing on the strongest genre within the rock ‘n’ roll music scene — heavy metal.

‘Taking the direct and literal translation from the phrase ‘heavy metal,’ our leather jackets are heavily embellished and adorned with metal studding, reverts and zips, as is the culture within the heavy metal music scene. This means that accessorizing is then implemented tastefully throughout all accompanying apparel in the mainly monochromatic collection’, says Mandy.

The duo’s fresh and edgy designs are made from their preferred choice of fabrics — leather, denim and cotton — and often feature exposed and raw seams, the brand’s signature trait. Vintage Zionist is also fully committed to responsible fashion; their jackets, for example, are made out of retro 80s leather jackets which are deconstructed, redesigned and polished to suit current trends.

Vintage Zionist | © Brandon Swanepoel


Hailing from Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, Donelle Fortuin is a young designer who will be debuting her first collection as one of 10 semi-finalists in the SAFW New Talent Search. Her collection draws on African culture, patterns and colors representing a ‘true and vibrant African character’. That being said, what can we expect to see from her?

‘Repetitive prints and patterns; references to our country’s nature, such as the Protea flower; imitation animal faux fur; the Ndebele tribe and hand crafts such as knitting are all featured in this collection, but with a modern twist,’ says Donelle.

Odon’s aesthetic focuses on empowering women through elegance and attention to detail, which in turn compliments the female body and exudes a luxurious appearance. Donelle adds that long coats and detailed sleeves and tassels will be a main feature of the collection. Catch the SAFW New Talent Search Show and winner announcement at 6:30 p.m. on day one of SA Fashion Week.

Odon | © Leando Arnolds (left), | Lucrecia Wakefield

Somerset Jane

Designer Melissa Jane Somerset moved from a background in couture to designing ready-to-wear clothing, all while maintaining her passion for delivering locally-produced pieces to fashion-conscious women. Her stylish repertoire includes dresses, pants, blouses and outerwear in classic shapes and statement pieces that juxtapose femininity and androgyny.

‘The Somerset Jane Autumn/Winter collection is based around modern minimalism with sports luxe references executed in a limited palette and elegant fabrics,’ says Melissa. ‘The ideas initiated from trying to take a stand against ‘fast fashion’ and make simplistic styles that last. It is a somewhat ‘quiet’ collection in its viewpoint, but I think therein lies its strength. I want it to speak to a modern woman looking to eliminate clutter and fuss in her lifestyle.’ Melissa adds that her collection is edgy, slightly masculine and perfect for the woman who sees her wardrobe as not only an asset, but also a powerful tool.

Somerset Jane | © Simon Deiner / SDR Photo


Erre (pronounced ‘air’) is the brainchild of Pretoria-based designers Carina Louw and Natasha Jaume. The brand takes power dressing to the next level by creating a range of glamorous and wearable clothing that explores the confident side of femininity. Each garment features the duo’s opposing skills of structure and fluidity, resulting in a striking and sophisticated outfit that transitions well from day to night.

Erre’s A/W ’17 collection is inspired by photographs of African Royalty from Central and East African countries.

‘Besides the regional dress specific to a tribe, we looked at French influences on royal dressing in African countries,’ says Carina. ‘The result is a collection that features structural draping, military influences, African embroideries and textiles distinctively South African such as Springbok skin and mohair — all to explore a new visual language for feminine power dressing.’

Erre | © Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Clive Rundle

Clive Rundle has been a tour de force in South Africa for over 20 years. Referring to himself as a ‘constructionist’, Clive’s intricate design process results in striking deconstructed garments that range from classically elegant to downright outlandish. For a truly unique fashion experience, be sure to catch his show.

Clive Rundle | © Simon Deiner / SDR Photo


Greer Kyle’s namesake brand makes use of interesting shapes and striking colors in her line of African-inspired clothing with a global twist. The brand features flowing dresses, feminine skirts, blouses and jumpsuits that can be worn to work or to a special occasion. Any fashion-forward woman will appreciate her innovative designs that are able to transform into various styles.


Mantsho, the Sesotho word for ‘a beautiful complexion’, was founded by Johannesburg-based designer Palesa Mokubung in 2004. Palesa’s unique talent lies in her ability to transform African-inspired designs into modern and edgy garments using fine silks and woven fabrics. She expertly employs structure and shape to create stylishly quirky garments, ensuring that any wearer will stand out in a crowd.

Mantsho | © Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Kottin & Twille

Designer Anna-Mari Pretorius paired up with business woman Elke Nelson to launch Kottin & Twille in 2010, a beautifully constructed line of feminine, ready-to-wear clothing. After winning the SA Fashion Week New Talent Award in 1999, Anna-Mari designed for Parisian brand XULY.Bët, followed by South African label Soda before starting Kottin & Twille. The brand’s designs exude femininity and are flattering on the female form, making them a worthy addition to any wardrobe.

Kottin & Twille | © Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

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