Part of the new fashion wave that has seen even boutique brands on Etsy become fashion powerhouses has been the explosion of self actualized beauty and fashion icons, pushing themselves solely through social media. This army social media enthusiasts have created a fashion and beauty template that is uniquely theirs while borrowing from previous fashion eras. This ‘Instagram model aesthetic’ (the term is often used derogatorily by critics of the trend) is what South African label Matte Nolim presents to us, skewered and distill through the prism that is the point of view of the label’s creative director Siyethemba Duma.
The designer’s new collection debuted as part of the Africa Fashion International Fast Track showcase at the concluded Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg Spring 17 event is not high concept or avantgarde but it doesn’t need to be. Duma’s inspiration seems drawn from the profiles of thousands of young twenty somethings unafraid to thrift or DIY, ever ready to repurpose a nightie into a day dress. He doubles down especially on the negiligee as outerwear trend that celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna have made famous and takes it for a spin. The results are slip dresses with plunging necklines, one of the finest satin wide leg pants that we’ve seen from an African designer in a long time (trust us, it actually holds its shape and has no puffy seams) and DIY-ish chokers and accessories.
It is only expected then that in drawing inspiration from social media’s stars, Duma ends up aping their mistakes. He dives headlong into this season’s big trends of cold shoulders, detached sleeves, trumpet hems on sleeves and trouser legs and overlong sleeves. While done excellently, they date the collection in a way that is quite damning and severely shorten the closet life of his collection.
When next season’s trends come, Matte Nolim’s brilliant collection will probably be cast aside, but at least for now, they will be celebrated for the genius work that has gone into them.
Simon Deiner/SDR Photo