CityLife Arts

Two local academics turned-fashion designers score major international fashion gig in Paris

By Edward Tsumele

There is no doubt about the fact that South Africa is a leading power house on the African continent when it comes to design. Whether it is architecture or fashion, local design talent  in big numbers, has emerged from the design sector to take a good account of themselves internationally over the years.

I mean names like Ephraim Molingoana, David Tlale, Thula Sindi, Machere and Laduma Ngxokolo, to name just a few of them, are today international names when it comes to fashion design, with some of their creations being proud possessions of prominent international figures, especially in celebrity circles.

Perhaps this should not surprise, after all, the local fashion designers, like pushing boundaries, experimenting not only with design styles, but also fabrics, and in the case of Laduma prominently featuring the Basotho blanket in his designs. As a result of that innovation he has won over the hearts and minds of many internationally for his innovative use of traditional fabric, taking it internationally.

He is appreciated for embedding traditional baSotho culture into his designs that have since become a hit internationally.

But these are not the only local design talent making waves internationally.. Yesterday, Wednesday, August 25, 2021,news broke out that two former fashion lecturer who are now full time designers from South Africa have scored big in international fashion by being invited to take part in a fashion fair in Paris, France.

In fact ERRE Fashion, a local label are the only SA fashion brand invited by Share Africa to exhibit at their prestigious inaugural Africa Fashion UP show in France this September. The brand will be flying the flag for SA fashion in France

 Carina Louw and Natasha Jaume, founders of ERRE Fashion, have been invited by Share Africa, in partnership with luxury fashion conglomerate,the Kering Group (think Balenciaga, Gucci, Alexander McQueen etc), to participate in their spotlight on African design venture – Africa Fashion UP. The design duo will showcase a collection entitled Home in Paris on September 17, this year, in advance of Paris Fashion Week.

Thanking Africa Fashion UP for the opportunity, Louw said: “It is an extraordinary privilege to be invited to be part of this project.  The opportunity to take our brand and share it with the world is incredible and we are excited to present a collection that embodies our spirit as a people, and a new world order in refined power dressing for women”. In the run up to the show, which will take place at the legendary Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild in the heart of the fashion capital, the pair will also participate in a workshop hosted by Balenciaga to which, they have been specifically invited.

L – R Natasha Jaume & Carina Louw

 ERRE (pronounced AIR) was launched in 2013 by Louw and Jaume, former fashion lecturers, who have now turned their eye for detail into a global success story.

 Taking their inspiration from the rich cultural tapestry of the African continent on their many travels, ERRE has formed a solid reputation for its redefined and refined power-dressing silhouettes that effortlessly envelope all body shapes and sizes.

The luxury brand is also a sterling ambassador for locally sourced Mohair, a signature of their seasonal offerings, and something that caught the eye of the Africa Fashion UP team.

Jaume explains: “Mohair is used by many of the top brands worldwide, but few know it originates in South Africa, so Africa Fashion UP is also a chance to remind people that not only does South Africa have a wealth of talent, it also has desirable resources that are sustainable.” An ethos, which Share Africa and their partners, Kering Group strongly supports.

“For a fashion designer, Mohair is magic – a beautiful tactile natural fibre that we can twist, bend, mould, contour and knit into any shape we please. A natural fibre that is super comfortable to wear and sustainable. But it was only after taking a road trip in the Karoo in 2019 with Mohair South Africa we truly realised how important this fibre is for South Africa and its ability to generate jobs and boost the economy,” stated Louw.

The Africa Fashion UP project forms part of a wider initiative by Share Africa. Its aim is to introduce the world of fashion to some of Africa’s best creatives whose brands and ethos are on par with the quality expected to be seen on the main fashion runways. Only five brands across the continent were chosen, with ERRE being the only South African to make the grade.

On the collection they will be showing in Paris, Louw says: “Home is where we have all rooted ourselves over the past 18-months or so.  We could choose to cocoon ourselves or spend the time opening our eyes to the inspiration all around us, which is what we did and what we hope we have captured in this collection.”

ERRE is distinctive for its body-inclusive lines and elegance.  All women are Queens and deserve to dress like one, so it is no wonder that ERRE is dressing the likes of Princess Charlene of Monaco as well as Oscar winning actress Terry Pheto and it is playfully encapsulated in this new season. Jaume elaborates:

“With this collection we wanted Home to remain true to our core yet embody the inherent resilience and humour of South Africans in facing the odds thrown at them.”

“We have also drawn on our unique floral heritage to inform our bright colour palette for this collection, which is also a symbol of promise for brighter beginnings and a celebration of our ‘Mbokodos’ (rock solid in isiXhosa) women of South Africa. As always, our garments will be beautifully constructed technical pieces that provide strong statements for women of courage and hope,” she said.

Expect powerful silhouettes in luxurious natural fibres like Mohair and wool. The beauty of these fibres will be emphasised in new, exciting ways and complemented by an optimistic colour palette in beautifully bright shades.

Louw and Jaume depart for Paris on September 11, 2021, in readiness for the workshop and the staging of their show on September. 1, and the duo is expected back in the country  on September 22, 2021.

Brand Highlights:

  • Finalist in the Renault New Talent Search at SA Fashion Week 2013 – launch of the brand
  • A/W2014 showstopper dress nominated for Design lndaba’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa.
  • Dressing Terry Pheto at the 2015 International Emmy Awards
  • Conceptualising the Myri Dress  in 2015 that will become one of ERRE’s classic bestsellers
  • Invited to attend Berlin Fashion Week July 2017 by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany
  • Invited to show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia in Moscow March 2018
  • Dressing HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco for the cover of Rooi Rose magazine June 2018 issue
  • Invited to Monaco by HSH Princess Charlene to consult with her and subsequently dressing her for numerous occasions.
  • Winners of the 2018 SAFW Cape Wools Designer Challenge. Attended the ‘Making it in Textiles’ conference in London as a guest of Cape Wools SA.
  • Invited to show at Mozambique Fashion Week in December 2018.
  • Collaborated with ECG Medical Clothing and fellow South African fashion brands to manufacture PPE during level 4 and 5 of the Covid-19 lockdown period in South Africa 2020
  • Showed 14 seasonal collections on the runways at SA Fashion Week between 2013 – 2021
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