South Africa’s Top Sustainable Fashion Designers Present Salon-Style Shows At Mount Nelson

Posted on November 22, 2023

This November, Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, hosted Confections x Collections (CxC): an annual five-day celebration where intimate salon-style fashion shows, curated by Twyg, meet bespoke confectioneries inspired by slow fashion labels with a focus on community, care, and inclusion.

The collections on show were inspired by the theme of African Luxury Lore, a concept steeped in storytelling that explores the richness of African cultures and customs while offering more meaningful engagement with luxury fashion. The designer collections that graced the Nellie’s Lounge included VIVIERS Studio by Lezanne Viviers, an avant-garde, androgynous brand, and 2020 LVMH Prize winner Sindiso Khumalo, both returning to CxC for the second year. They were joined by Johannesburg-based designers Wanda Lephoto, who showcases sartorial storytelling, and Mantsho by Palesa Mokubung, famous for her bountiful and bold looks. The closing act was Cape Town-based designer of Thai descent, 0, fondly known as the “Prince of Print”.

With CxC, Cape Town’s iconic pink hotel pays homage to the rise of those who are championing a culture of care and honouring local artisanal skills through the legacy of the 50-year afternoon tea tradition. For the two daily fashion shows, Mount Nelson’s Executive Pastry Chef Vicky Gurovich created bespoke confectionaries inspired by the collections. Each show incorporated an intimate designer conversation led by Master of Ceremonies, Seth Shezi, with the common thread of collaboration and community emerging when designers modestly spoke about their respective creative success both at home and abroad.

Wanda Lephoto revisits African stories through the lens of contemporary style in his ‘Me Fie’ collection, weaving subcultures and influences through tailored garments. An observer inspired by South Africa and beyond, Lephoto says, “I’m in service to my friends and family with an understanding of where we’ve been and where we want to go. It is all through friendship and community”. He retells the story of watching the migration of people to Johannesburg’s city centre, those who carried large Ghana Must Go bags with crosshatched patterns, which he translates into ready-to-wear, contemporary designs. Cherry blossom appliqué suits welcome his notion that “from the cracks in the pavement, a flower can bloom”.

VIVIERS Studio by Lezanne Viviers explores the provenance of our clothing and shared origin stories of diverse cultures inspired by the stars. Through reclaimed silk with Japanese printing techniques, Viviers gives a new textural feeling to silk harvested in South Africa. Like her contemporaries, Viviers celebrates community and shared values: “There is one designer with the idea, but it takes 50 people working together to make the vision clear”.

CxC transcends the runway as Sindiso Khumalo returns to indulge guests in the rare opportunity to experience her latest collaboration with European retailer ‘& Other Stories’. Her playful dresses and newly launched children and swimwear were laced with ribbons, storied prints, and Peter Pan-style collars. She notes, “There is an amazing fashion community in South Africa. This is bigger than showing your work, it’s about community building”. This collection extends Khumalo’s commitment to a plastic-free ethos, which features clay jewellery by celebrated South African sculptor, Githan Coopoo.

Mantsho by Palesa Mokubung is the embodiment of building a legacy through community. Since founding Mantsho in 2004, Mokubung says “I have proven myself as an integral part of the fashion industry – a black female at the forefront. My community is what pushes me”. Each collection is laced with passion and culture, through a signature spectrum of bold prints and exaggerated silhouettes, collectively creating a mosaic of artistry and African prints. A true titan of the industry, Mokubung has once again made her mark, with the storied Mount Nelson as her stage.

Chuulap by Chu Suwannapha takes you around the world with his Spring/Summer 2024 ‘Sea Explorer’ – a collection of skilfully clashing colours, patterns, and maps swathed across trench coats, knitwear, and aquatic accessories. A salute to African creativity, Suwannapha points to ocean exploration and Cape Town’s wild terroir for inspiration. When speaking about the power of collaboration Suwannapha noted, “I am putting myself into somebody else’s shoes to extend my brand and I deeply value the opportunity to collaborate with someone who can change my experience”.

From historic threads to cosmopolitan tapestry, through Confections x Collections, the much-loved Nellie – a matter of months shy of turning 125 years old – continues to make its mark as one of Cape Town’s cultural cornerstones.

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