Monday, July 6, 2015

Have we patronized African craftsmanship?

I woke up this morning wondering whether people read labels. Clothing Labels that is. There are certain South African brands I have tried to support over the years until I discovered that they Sub-contract production to countries like India (which is penned to be the next super economy after China, wait 2025). I understand that production costs in South Africa drive up the price of every garment and clothing item, but I thought, I don't see Valentino move production to reduce cost....? Do we patronize our own workmenship? 
Are we continuing to perpetuate the mindset that nothing from Africa can be good and therefore become a luxury brand? Would you pay R4 000 for a pair of Valentino's? Would you pay the same for a pair of Tsonga's? 

isivina, Tsonga | Price: R275.99

I might add that the Valentino's are plastic, uPVC and the Tsonga's are obviously leather. Would you pay the lady at the union buildings R400 for a beaded belt? Or would you rather pay R2000 for a psuedo-beaded belt by Stella McCartney should she go through a Safari phase? I doubt the lady at the Union Buildings goes through a Safari phase, but that is the reality of fashion. Anything remotely connotative of Africa on the American and Euro-Asian Fashion stage is referred to as Safari or Tribal, of which I have to say the latter insults me greatly! 

Gold Beaded Belt, Stella McCartney Belt
Source Photograph: Neiman Marcus

Blue Turquoise Beaded Belt, Anthropologie
Source Photograph: Lyst
Thembu  People South Africa, 1940-1959, Glass beads, Leather and Metal work i.e. a Xhosa Belt.
Source Photograph: Pinterest

I know that about 80 years if not sooner weddings were the height or high fashion and brides paid whatever they had to to wear garments, that were obviously hand-made by local women. In Nigeria there are certain cloths, that only royalty are allowed to wear to this day. To understand where I am coming from, I recently took a relative shopping at the zoo. Yes I go shopping at the stalls at the Zoo. But before I went a well meaning colleague of mine advised me that I must wear a T-shirt that said South African otherwise I would pay an arm and a leg for it. Since African is slowly becoming a colour and not a nation anymore, I proceeded to ask my aunt, who is Ghanaian, not to speak. I will be honest, I hate negotiating, so whatever price they gave me after I stared over-long at them is the price we paid. Until, I guess she got tired of remaining silent and she started speaking to me in English, at which case her accent was obvious. The ladies there asked me where she was from and since the cat was out of the bag, I informed them that she was from Ghana. We obviously forgot to buy a few items so the following day we went back, and the ladies remembered us and they proceeded to engage her in English and the prices of the items did NOT increase. I left it alone and then this morning I came across a tweet from the wall street Journal, titled 'Redifining African Luxury in Lagos....' 

Businesswoman Reni Folawiyo is building a concept store with celebrated architect David Adjaye on Victoria Island in Lagos. The mission? To redefine African luxury for Nigerians—and for the rest of the world.

GLOBAL CITIZEN | Folawiyo, an intrepid traveler, stopped practicing law several years ago to dedicate herself to art and design.
Source: Wall Street Journal (WSJ) May, 2014.
 GLOBAL CITIZEN | Folawiyo, an intrepid traveler, stopped practicing law several years ago to dedicate herself to art and design.           Photography By Jamie Hawkesworth for WSJ. Magazine

Her hope is that her concept store will encourage Pan-African travel. Essentially encourage me to travel to Nigeria to buy an original Maki Oh. Folawiyo, hopes to encourage Africans to patronize African craftmentship. It is with shame that I write this, but I think I have bought into the lie and she needs to start with me. Have you ever? What did you do to rectify it? 

But first Mrs Folawiyo needs to educate me on the English language and its sink hole of double - entendres and meanings, when I first read the article, it thought she meant, to consider something as stupid or to talk to someone as if they are stupid. It didn't make sense to me obviously it being early morning for me and all. Patronize, before it became a negative word meant and still means, 'frequent (a shop, restaurant, or other establishment) as a customer. -wikipedia.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Scent of a Woman

Brand New Year, brand new approach.
One of my closest friends' husband asked me just yesterday, 'why is it that woman cannot tell each other the truth; I mean what is the point of being friends if I cannot build into your life.' So going from this standpoint, I decided I was going to try and make the Fashion Fridays a little more helpful, a little more interactive. Give you the information you wonder about and the information thats never crossed your mind. So instead of just warding us off fashion 'faux pas', I am going to try and answer the questions you've always wondered about, but didnt have the time to find the answers too. The things you would like to tell your friend, but have not because you are too shy. You can email these to me. But how to begin and what to begin with. Now it is the end of February and it hits me. Rather it woke me up from a deep dreamless sleep, because I couldn't breath.
Have you ever wondered how to tell someone that they fell into a bottle of perfume? Have you ever told someone that they put on too much perfume and they did'nt comprehend? Have you ever ignored someone, who told you that you put too much perfume on? Do we understand the purpose of perfume? What is the difference between Perfume, Eau de toilette, aerosol Body spray and the difference in use. Knowing the difference could help us understand how much to put on.
Now personally, perfume for me is about memory. The smell of fresh bread reminds me of my childhood. Freshly cut, wet grass reminds me of spring and work (I always want to remember work...). The smell of the ocean reminds me of holidays and the smell of tea or coffee makes me want to read a book with my phone on silent. It has been said that a womans perfume should linger in a room after she has gone, not hit you over the head when she has walked in. But why does a womans perfume accost you? What is perfume?

Perfume /ˈpɜr.fjuːm/ or parfum is a mixture of fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds, fixatives and solvents used to give the human body, animals, objects, and living spaces "a pleasant scent."[1]
The key word is 'pleasant smell'. Perfume is an aromatic compound that is dissolved in a solvent normally ethanol or a mixture of water and ethanol. Perfume is also differentiated into different catagories based on the concentration of aroma compounds or perfume concentration.
  • Perfume, also called extract or extrait perfume, can include 15-40% perfume concentrates. This is the purest form of scented product and is the most expensive as a result and it would be advisable to just dab where necessary.
  • Eau de parfum contains about 7-15% perfume concentrates. This is the most popular and common form of perfume. It provides a long-lasting fragrance and generally doesn't cost as much as extract perfume.
The most common areas of use for these two above are the pulse points, behind the ears, the neck, along the breast bone also known as your sternum, the insides of wrists, elbows and knees. In Western culture it is believed that the pulse point will warm the perfume and release fragrance continually.
The insides of my elbows and knees,...are uncomfortable to wear perfume, I do not know whether you have experienced it differently. I do not enjoy smelling my perfume the whole day, so spraying my neck just makes me mental. So what I do is I spray my hanging clothes while they are in the wardrobe, or after I have ironed them I lay them down and spray them, not choke them, so that when I move the scent is released. When laziness hits, which happens often, then I spray myself from the shoulders down, before getting dressed. The two above last anything from 6 - the following day, hours.
  • Eau de toilette has around 5-15% perfume concentrates. This makes for a light scent that doesn't linger as long as the more intense versions, because it is used as a skin freshner. It is also referred to as "aromatic waters" and has a high alcohol content.[It was originally intended to be a refreshing body splash to help people wake up in the morning.
This is the spray that you put on and half way through the day you wish you had a refresher, in which case the product below is very helpful. The above and below last between 0 - 4 hours.
  • Body spray is a perfume product, similar to aerosol deodorant, which is intended to be used elsewhere on the body besides the armpits. You can spray this on liberally, but remember that they had to make it light somehow as well so they use alcohol as a solvent.
When you get that, 'I have swallowed pure alcohol' or some metal, like aluminium taste in your mouth then it is normally because someone over used the two above. We all know what aluminium tastes like, right.
  • Eau de cologne is sometimes used interchangeably with the term eau de toilette and has around 3-8% perfume concentrates. However, the concoction began as the name of a light, fresh fragrance mixed with citrus oils and was made popular by Napoleon. Some perfumers today have a version of this called eau fraiche and unless you are me, it is for men. The smell of lemons makes me think of summer.
Now did you not think that I was going to review the  Dino Risi's 1974 Italian film Profumo di donna or the 1992 American  remake. Was this not a little more helpful than a movie review.
Be remembered well ladies, and have pity on your unsuspecting mate. Or the friend who had to get the courage to voice this. The people you travel with in closed confines or work with every, single day and remember with Perfume, Eau de parfum and all the alcohol based scenters, less is more!
When in doubt ask a friend, 'hey can you still smell my scent still.' 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pamela Love: Jewellry designer for the Love of Drama

It's not often that I watch Fashion TV and not get bored out of my mind. I can hear some of you say, "That's blashpemy" with your best aghast voice, but alas I have said it. It's not really the content that bores me everything is always so amnazing that I get an overload and switch off. As a result I do not have a TV because then I would always be on Fashion TV and never satisfied with what I see.I am always looking for something I cannot define. I think im looking for spectacular. Last year Cleo Droomer won the Elle Magazine's New Talent Designer search in South Africa and as far as I was concerned, his fellow entrants were far behind him.
So watching Fashoin TV this past weekend at my parents house, I discovered Pamela Love a New York based jewellry designer. I am not going to say much about her expcept she is highly trained and experienced. Her work experience in the dramatic arts, I think personally, influences her work so obviously. I will let  her work speak for itself. Do you see what I see too....

Maybe it was my love for drama and the dramatic. Nothing is ever too much for me. Or maybe it was the narrative behind the collection that got my attention. She explained this way, loosely translated, 'its Art Deco and Industrial Revolution inspired, taking some of the elements and translating that to something new and fresh.' But how she presented it, is she said, 'I wanted the models to look like they were working at the factory and stole the jewellry and wore it.' I love to hear the story behind the presentation. Her jewellry is very masculine and bold, reminds me of the Chrysler Building by Willem van Alen. See the resemblance.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Samantha Pleet for Wolverine

I am and we all are familiar with Brooklyn based Designer, Samantha Pleet for her mystical, beautifully constructed clothing. For her last Autumn Winter 2012 collection she paired her clothing with shoes designed by her, as part of a collaboration with the shoe company Wolverine. Wolverine is a company that produces hard wearing boots for the hard working men who builds infrastructure such as railway lines and roads, in America. The concept caught my heart for stories and adventure, because each boot is designed in honour of an independent female explorer or adventurer. Someone tall tales were told about, and some changed the course of history. I recently assisted a friend of mine, buy a similar style boot and am shopping around for my own. A man styled, lace-up, period boot and I have fallen in lust.

The Earhart Boot, named after the american air explorer, style icon, pioneer and author, Amelia Earhart. It looks like a riding boot, is apparently more comfortable and for me embodies the idea of travel clothes. I love the polished look and two tone colour mix and the lace-up detail at the top. I wonder what Amelia would think of Boeing passenger airplanes and Pteromerhanophobia...

My favourite, the Blixen Boot, named for the 1920's Danish explorer, author and hunter, Karen Blixen. I enjoy contrasts so this boot would only be worn with a pale coloured, delicate looking, lacey or chiffon dress. Left, it is worn with A/W 2012, 'the captive dress' by Samantha Pleet. If you do not know, the book and movie, Out of Africa were inspired by her life. She left her own country to establish a coffee plantation in 'savage' Africa. I wonder what she would think of instant coffee and Kenya today...

Above paired with 'the banner cloak,' A/W 2012, SP collection; the Bonny Boot, is the most conservative representatively for me. But maybe the intention was to keep to a simple design that would best communicate the need for quick escapes that the namesake for this boot must have staged on many an occasion. The daughter of a successful merchant, the beautiful, red-haired,  female pirate and treasure hunter, that this boot is styled after is Anne Bonny. She was one of the most notorious female pirates in 18th century caribbean waters. She married a pirate! A pirate, what would possess a genteel lady of the 1700's to marry a pirate? Their romance must have been something spectacular. Ai, indeed!

Finally another favourite the Nesbit Kiltie Boot and Oxford is named after the bohemian Evelyn Nesbit who today would be a modern woman, who is not confined to any place. Above left the Oxford is worn with 'the Landmark Dress', from Samantha Pleets' A/W 2012 collection. Evelyn came from humble beginnings and as a chorus girl, an actress and model, she is known as the original Gibson girl. What or who is a Gibson Girl? Ask Charles Dana Gibson. If he tells who who she was, then continue on and ask Leonardo da Vinci, who the girl in the Mona Lisa portrait is....I would rather not know.

Earhart Boot
Blixen Boot

Bonny Boot

Nesbit Kiltie Riding Boot
Nesbit Oxford

Friday, May 18, 2012

Containers of Hope: More container designs

You will probably have noticed by now that I have a love for small spaces, preferably using containers. I believe that as the world expands in people and diseases fail to curb the growing mass, that the value of space will continue to increase. And, majority of people in my age group and less prefer smaller - we are essentially not live on a farm in the middle of no-where people and if I have space I wanna share it with my stylish wardrobe people. Hence why I think Social Housing should realistically focus on providing high quality space at a low cost for the rich and wasteful as well as the have-nots and have not. When I was studying most of the Social Housing Architecture projects where concentrated either in South Africa or Brazil, Argentina etc. formerly first world, currently third world countries essentially. At present I think South Africa is less inclined towards Social Housing with a decline in notable projects in this country, but Latin America is still going strong, if not better.

This project below is by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture  and is located on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica. Costa Rica happens to be the greenest country in the world.  It has been dubbed 'Containers of Hope' and the design proves that just because something is low costs, does not mean one loses out on quality. I would live in this, if the architect was willing to doll out his construction details, I would buy me some land and live in this. The total cost of the building project was 40000 USD (R340 000). Not only is this lower than the average cost of social housing in Costa Rica, but it is about one forth cheaper, than the current cost of a house in South Africa in an upmarket surburb, which goes for about R1, 200 000 and is the current cost of a subsidised house in a township.

The roof between the two containers not only provides additional light but also adequate ventilation to cool the space during summer. The insulation of the walls, controls heat loss through the building skin, during winter. What about the glass you may ask; do you know that thick curtains can reduce heat loss in winter by up to 68%. That is the only reason why I have summer and winter curtains. Mine are dark victorian red, in velvet. Well they will be the minute I buy material to make them.

The Architects design philosophy is his commitment to explore 'The particularities of technology, resources, and materials as they relate to time and location, and how these may begin to propose new ways to understand space and design.' This is clearly evident because the orientation of the unit not only maximises on views, but natural light either in summer or winter.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Perpex Jewellery II: Philippa Green

I would call this the goddess.

This is by Cape Town Based, jewellery designer Philippa Green. I have seen some of the pieces in Magazines etc. especially the tube cuff, but it never occurred to me to find out more information about the designer. She is actually well known for her perspex jewellery, with attachments of steel and precious stones. I would love to ask her what it feels like to be so familiar with a material like perspex and whether she could give one word to describe how it behaves, what would that word be?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Perspex Jewellery: Belinda-Lee Ludek

My first reaction to this cuff was, 'aahh! come on!' that is how gorgeous it is; it illicited a reaction from me that does not make sense, like I could not believe what I was seeing. While perusing my favourite online store in SA, 36 Boutiques, that I am registered on but I cannot seem to not max my credit card out so I do not really know when, if ever ill buy from there. Unless they convert to a shop. Then I can max the credit card in person, I enjoy that a lot more. It reminds me of stuff that would strip super heroes of their powers, like kryptonite for Superman. This may be my archilles heel because I am going to load money onto my credit card, just to buy this....It is by Cape Town Based Jewellery Designer, Belinda-Lee Ludek.

 My love for the unusual continued.

These pieces are unfortunately only available from 36 Boutiques, because I went to check on her website and these are not up yet. I love the crudeness of the form of the cuff contrasting with the refined finish of the pieces. I do not see anyone wear these with anything other than classic pieces with clean lines in simple colours. Anything more would make the pieces look garish and insult the design integrity of the pieces.