Now anyone who has been pre-acquainted with Alexandra Blanc’s work as creative director of her eponymous menswear line already knows that Blanc doesn’t care for your gender conventions. Her label is one of the few South African pioneers that so aggressively pushed for agendered dress in Menswear that by the time western labels started to catch on to the idea, it was already old news to us. Having helped pioneer trends and defy the status quo through her work, Blanc is setting her sights elsewhere and subtly shifting the focus of art from questioning common but pervasive tropes to building new ones.
The new Blanc collection was shown in Capetown as part of the South Africa Menswear Week, the label’s new stomping grounds since it left the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg, an expected move considering SAMW focuses only on menswear labels and gives her better exposure. Many of Blanc’s signature quirks are there, exaggerated silhouettes, usually amorphous so clothes can be easily worn by either gender. But there is also a softening of self professed house rules; for the first time in a while, there are pieces that definitely suited to men only, there is leather, there is convention.
The collection, just twelve looks is built around a bastardization of renaissance style murals, printed on oversize collarless shirts. Juxtaposing a classic female portrait with one of the models that walked the runway on the show, seems to suggest that modern art and modes of self expression can sit side by side with the greats and not necessarily been seen as lesser. This must be an argument Blanc has to make often, as a woman in menswear, challenging the status quo of rigid clothes and classic suits.
This, and a retinue of athleisure pieces fill out the collection, a marriage of styles and cultures and woman’s left of center perspective.
Simon Deiner/SDR Photo.