April 15, 2012

safw: joel janse van vuuren

(images via sdr photo)

it’s hard to believe a whole year has passed since opt’s last discussion on south african fashion week, but here we are again, encountering durban designer joel janse van vuuren for the second time.  with his charming s/s 2011 range, we saw the designer’s affinity for ombré, and he was back with more delicate, softly fading colouring with his s/s 2012 collection.  this time, however, as haute fashion africa pointed out, he cast his pieces in something “very similar to tie/dye” (or i thought perhaps batik), which allowed for a more delicate, less saturated, and more clearly varied colour scheme. 

though as ever in africa (and yes, it sucks), there wasn’t a lot of press, but the south african site daily news did report that the designer’s spring pieces were “hand-dyed,” while the blog did someone say fashion noted that he employed materials like silk and tulle in an impressionistic palette of white, raspberry, lily pad green, cornflower, lilac, peach, bubblegum, lemon, brown, and aquamarine.  as last spring’s work, mr. van vuuren’s garments, which mostly consisted of dresses in an array of lengths, were fluidly feminine, sometimes with slightly asymmetrical hems that billowed out and about the models as they walked. 

yet there were some distinct changes in the designer’s work, and i would venture to say he’s grown up quite a bit in the last year.  if that collection allowed him to be (i hate to say it) almost lazy with his cuts, relying pretty much entirely on the beautiful colours, he’s snapped things up and remembered that an interesting silhouette (and some definition for the figure underneath) can be as important as the print.  thus, ruching, cowl necks, and ruffles were among the pretty details he incorporated, and several of the frocks featured some gathers, elastic, or seaming at the natural waistline to give his girls a bit of additional shape. 

another difference between the two collections was in the use of volume.  to be sure, the present show certainly allowed for some movement, some ethereal floating upon the air, but he pulled things in a little tighter, not letting them get quite so out of hand, and transform into muumuus (or overwhelm his models).  instead, when he chose to employ the most fabric, with the fantastic peachy, white, and aqua layered v-neck gown, he also used the most restraint, carefully tiering the dress in such a manner as to give his girl both a few pretty curves and to allow her body the long, graceful feeling.  none of this is to say he wasn’t a good designer last time around, but it is good to see him perking up so much, and settling in better with his craft.  and it remains to be seen what interesting avenue he will pick up from here (see good additional images at joel janse van vuuren).

updated: with new images

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