Emerging South African designer Chesney Day Williams returns to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg stage under the platform of the Africa Fashion International (AFI) Fast Track incubator (a programme similar to the Lagos Fashion and Design Week’s Fashion Focus programme). Her fall 16 collection was one of our favorites from the Fall Showcase this year, showing a mix of hand crotchet, leather and fringe into pieces that halfway between festival gear and genuine cowboy uniforms. This season Day Williams returns to the AFI showcase with a partner in tow. All the designers in the showcase this season were partnered with a prominent South African celebrity. For Day Williams and her label, that celebrity was Dj Zinhle.
So how do you dress one of South Africa’s most successful female Dj’s. You DIY it of course.
Day Williams looks to the 80’s for inspiration for this collection, drawing on the celebrity culture of the time. Popstars like Madonna and Paula Abdul shifted perceptions around sexiness and sensuality from close-cut, slinky dresses and a polished look to a grittier, self made personal style, cobbled from unusual sources. Applique was a huge trend at the time, as was underwear as outerwear (think Madonna’s iconic cone bra). Of course the label streamlines the aesthetic, but it manages to keep that grittiness and that rebellion.
Baby doll dresses cinched just under the bust, a capri denim jumpsuit, pleather pants and sheer bras, modesty only managed with a bit of black fabric. Loads and loads of pop art style appliques used to dress up individual pieces. Distressed denims and youthful street wear are other trends that the label manages to incorporate. This reads for a much younger girl, but the craftsmanship means that it will find audiences among much older demographics.
Simon Deiner/SDR Photo