Judi Nel, the head honcho behind the south African design label Judith Atelier is part of the new generation of design talents redefining the limits of fashion on the continent. Nel has set herself apart as a designer with her debut collection at the Spring 17 SAFW showcase which featured hyper-feminine silhouettes in flirty, floaty fabrics and an idiosyncratic approach to women’s wear that keeps her clothes fresh and the media excited.
Which is fascinating when you consider the label has only been existence since 2014 and already the kind of strong brand identity that it takes other brands at least a decade to manage. This shows through in the label’s fall 17 collection debuted at SAFW, that subverts the feminine princess of Spring by grounding her firmly in Africa. Using three dimensional fabric work and cuts that emphasize and exaggerate feminine features like contrast pleating on a-line skirts, strategic cutouts and exaggerated layering, she crafts a contemporary tribal princess, as at home in a boardroom as in a Sangoma ritual .
Abstract prints, chiffon, gauze and satin form the foundation on which the collection is built. Shredded threads are used to detail skirting and embroider sleeves. Ethnic jewellery helps complete the aesthetic, selling the look to even the skeptical. However the lack of cohesion between the pieces is the collection’s major (and I dare say) only flaw. But a minor one in the light of the stellar work that has gone in elsewhere.
PHOTO CREDITS: safashionweek.co.za