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Couturiers will be showing their autumn/winter collections on the Hyde Park Corner Rooftop in the first fashion week of the year.
THERE is always something in new fashion – indeed that’s what makes it fashion. The newest of all this year is the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg, previously known simply as Joburg Fashion Week.

from C-SquaredC-Squared will feature a range of menswearWith a new name behind it, the event promises to be bigger and better than before. With more than 25 designers in 20 shows taking place over four days, Joburg fashionistas will be engulfed by an array of colour, fabric and sleek, elegant lines as designers show off their autumn/winter collections.

Presented by African Fashion International (AFI), this pre-eminent event has changed its name following a partnership with the car manufacturer in an attempt to nurture and raise the profile of the country’s fashion designers around the world.

Apart from its new name, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg will, for the first time, be held on Hyde Park Corner’s rooftop, from 7 to 10 March.

“Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg … showcases South Africa’s established and emerging designers, offering a platform of visibility, relevance and access to the market,” says AFI’s executive chairperson, Precious Moloi-Motsepe. “It also gives a truly South African perspective on autumn/winter fashion and Hyde Park Corner presents the perfect setting.”

Contemporary South African fashion will be seen from some of the country’s top designers, including Kluk CGDT, David Tlale, Gavin Rajah, Thula Sindi, Spero Villioti, Heni, Leigh Schubert, Abigail Keats, Abigail Betz and the Dax Martin Chocolatier Collection by Magnum.

Black Coal ClothingDesigner Black Coal Clothing is among several emerging designers showcasing their workMenswear designers will also feature, including C-squared, Fabiani and Distinctive Man. Emerging designers Thabani Mavundla, Danielle Margaux, Black Coal Clothing, Wild Fig, Mosewamosa, Loin Cloth & Ashes, Avant and Grapevine will be there too. New to the platform will be Tashkaya.

At the official launch on 16 February at Hyde Park Corner, Moloi-Motsepe said: “It is a joy and honour for me to announce the commencement of our partnership with Mercedes-Benz South Africa.

“International designer Coco Chanel once said: ‘To achieve great things, we must first dream’, and tonight’s launch is the culmination of not only these dreams but also a lot of hard work,” she said.

“Mercedes-Benz, as a renowned and sophisticated global brand, represents the perfect fit for African Fashion International – in terms of leveraging the profile of African designers internationally.”

Fashion city
The launch of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg was timely and significant, she added. “Timely because this is our first event of the year and it sets the tone for all the fantastic events we have in plan for this year. I say significant because with this collaboration we are now well positioned to make Joburg a global fashion city.”

Moloi-Motsepe “had no doubt” that this collaboration would have an important bearing not only on South Africa’s economy but also on the continent and would contribute “to our international standing in the fashion world”.

HeniDont miss top designs from HeniSpeaking of the AFI mission to make a ground-breaking difference in the fashion industry, she pointed out that in 2011, it had created AFI Fastrack, which was now the official post-grad fashion platform in the country. “In that sense, together Mercedes-Benz and AFI will further contribute to building a new generation of African fashion designers.”

Moloi-Motsepe mentioned her determination to make 2012 an even more productive and inspiring year for fashion designers, who deserves an enormous amount of credit for continuing to inspire people every year with new and exciting concepts.

She also announced that she would be launching the AFI Showroom, a resource for international consumers. “We will also turn our attention to connecting to other fashion week platforms on the continent as part of our feed-in strategy to Africa Fashion Week.”

She concluded: “I believe one day we will look and see 2012 as a turning point, the beginning of a new era for African fashion.”

On the night, Mercedes-Benz also launched its new C-Class C180 sedan Style Edition, which was especially specified for the event. The C-Class is proudly South African and is the company’s highest-selling model series.

Speaking on behalf of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Martin Zimmermann, the president and chief executive officer, said: “I am confident that we here in South Africa will bring African fashion, and the tremendous potential which exists, to centre stage through our partnership.

“We are so excited to participate in this three-year title sponsorship of Africa’s most prestigious fashion events, that we can hardly contain ourselves. All of my fashion conscious colleagues are wildly exuberant about it.”

Pointing to the synergy between fashion as a lifestyle and the Mercedes-Benz brand, he added: “Our vehicles embody beauty, timeless elegance and a strong emotive appeal. They [also] embody innovative technology, packaged in a sensuous body, setting pulses racing through the ages.”

Abigail BetzAbigail Betz will showcase her range of summer wearAbout 30 percent of the creatives working in interior design at Mercedes-Benz were women, and the company had many interior designers who originally trained as haute couture designers.

“Mercedes-Benz and fashion is a perfect match. For over a decade, Mercedes-Benz has established itself as an experienced partner of major international fashion platforms,” he said.

The car manufacturer sponsors activities in Berlin and New York and is the title sponsor of fashion weeks in Stockholm, Moscow, Sydney, Brisbane and Mexico City. It is also actively involved in the fashion capitals of Paris, Milan and London, and numerous other fashion events in cities such as Buenos Aires and Beijing.

AFI Fastrack
Beginning Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg will be AFI Fastrack shows, a fashion development programme and competition launched last year, which showcases the collections of three finalists. AFI Fastrack takes a holistic view of the fashion industry, providing internships for graduates in the areas of design, production, photography and styling.

The KwaZulu-Natal Fashion Council and Trade Investment KwaZulu-Natal will present a collective show of the province’s most talented designers, including Karen Monk Klijnstra, Genna-Wae Webster, Katherin Kidger and Siyathemba Ngwenya. Leading retailer Foschini will show its winter collection, while Hyde Park Corner will present a collective show.

“In partnering with Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Hyde Park Corner, we believe AFI has raised the international bar for fashion week in Joburg,” said Moloi-Motsepe.

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