<div class="ExternalClassBB530A1C56E74E61937406A7B22E5A88"><p>​Four South African designers were announced as among the first to be honoured by the Zeitz MOCAA Costume Institute with significant exhibitions when the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa opens early 2017.</p><div>Leading names in the industry, and representing the old and new guards of South African fashion, the designers -- Marianne Fassler, Chris Levin, Gavin Rajah and Thula Sindi – were revealed at the inaugural Zeitz MOCAA Gala on Saturday, 28 February 2015.</div><div><br></div><div>The designers introduced their respective oeuvres with five seminal costumes selected from their archives, providing an enticing hint of what to expect from their future exhibitions at Zeitz MOCAA.</div><div>Said Mark Coetzee, Executive Director and Chief Curator of Zeitz MOCAA, “These annual fashion exhibitions will take the form of major retrospectives, researched by capable curators, which will honour a designer whose work has contributed to a critical engagement with the costume arts in South Africa.”</div><div><br></div><div>Commenting on the selection of the four South African designers, Coetzee said, “The Zeitz MOCAA Costume Institute’s first focus is on three generations of South African designers. Each of the four designers are indicative of their time but at the same time have a strong personal voice and aesthetic. In my selection I carefully considered the contribution each designer has or is making on the history of contemporary culture.”</div><div> </div><div>Currently crafting distinctive one-off and off-the-peg garments under her Leopard Frock label, Marianne Fassler has been a force in the South African fashion world for two decades. Fassler, who recently presented a TEDX Joburg talk about Fashion and Identity, said, “I think it is important to establish a Costume Institute in South Africa, and it will be interesting to record how fashion reflects identity and history.</div><div><br></div><div>“Fashion is a powerful communication tool and at best reflects change in a society long before it actually manifests in the main stream. It is fun but it is also very serious. It is my hope that this Costume Institute will go beyond the finery and the hype to truly reflect the unique voices in South African Fashion.”</div><div><br></div><div>Chris Levin headed his eponymous haute couture and prêt-a-porter house in the 1970s and 1980s, when, he says, “couture was in its bloom”. His clients, ranging from South African diplomats’ wives to Elizabeth Taylor, were attracted to his signature luxurious fabrics, impeccable cuts and attention to detail – the so-called “Levin Look”.</div><div><br></div><div>Said Levin, “The concept of a Costume Institute is of great importance, not only because it will represent South African fashion’s colourful past but will also reveal a particular era of our social history. It will also bring into line the international belief as to the importance of couture and the effect it has had influencing the mass market. Mainly one would think that an institute such as Zeitz MOCAA will preserve these garments not only for our cultural heritage but also for future fashion students to derive inspiration from.”</div><div><br></div><div>The Thula Sindi brand was established in 2005 to critical acclaim, and within a relatively brief period has come to represent the new face of fashion in South Africa. Sindi’s collections have been shown at local fashion weeks as well as at Couture Fashion Week in Paris, and he’s been recognised to be among the top emerging designers on the continent. His brand, he said, “represents simplicity, sophistication and beauty - beautifully made contemporary clothing for the South African woman.”</div><div><br></div><div>Said Sindi, “I’m honoured to be a part of this initiative and look forward to showing at Zeitz MOCAA. Fashion is an applied art but it is also part of contemporary history, reflecting its time and also foreshadowing what is to come. As an integral part of our daily lives and of our history, it’s good that its progress and metamorphosis will be documented. I’m really glad that the museum will put focus onto the history of South African fashion. It’s an important story and it’s great that it is being told.”</div><div><br></div><div>Gavin Rajah, whose haute couture brand extends to jewellery and interior design, might have dressed celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Beyonce, Tina Turner and Paris Hilton, but forging his career was not without its challenges. “I started my business at a time when it was impossible for people of colour to be accepted, and when all the shows were predominantly white,” he said. He believes the challenge now is for designers to fight against the stereotypes presented by being a designer in both South Africa and Africa. “Because the work produced here competes on an international level, there is a disbelief that it comes from this continent.”</div><div><br></div><div>Rajah believes a Costume Institute will not merely bear testament to the work of the designers it presents, but will also play a role in shaping the industry and the identity of fashion in the country and potentially on the continent as a whole.</div><div><br></div></div>2015-02-27T22:00:00Z



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