Conceptual fashion and design is the very backbone of South African fashion. This is obvious in the work of Marianne Fassler, Rich Mnisi and even more commercial labels like Jenevieve Lyons, brands that have a strong thematic approach to making clothes. It seems as if emerging design label Monastery is a good litmus test for the next generation of South African designers as even more boundaries will be tested.
Ashleigh McCulloch’s brain child, Monastery, is an ethereal clothing and accessories label with a particular bent towards minimalist design and a return to nature. McCullogh also cares a lot about the artisanship and workmanship of her clothes, hence the term Monastery for a label name.
Only 7 months old, Monastery already has a strong visual aesthetic if it’s new collection is anything to go by. The clothes in the collection are deliberately simplistic, allowing the cuts and fabrics take centre stage. McCullogh has a weakness for asymmetry as evinced by the crop blouses, uneven hems and overlong sleeves. This subtle but relentless subversion of ‘good dress’ is a theme that runs through the collection’s lighter beginnings, right down to it’s dark, off black ending.
However, where McCullogh’s genius truly excels is in her jewellery. There is a definitive afrofuturist bent to her cache of nose rings and necklaces, each carrying a simple but visually engaging abstract motif, the collection is way too small to truly gauge the scope of Monastery’s intents but it is a great way to get their foot in the door.