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Black is in - suits the bleak mood

By unknown | Dec 03, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

Fashion and decor, like the world's financial markets, are facing a period of gloom.

Hangwani Nengovhela of Rubicon Clothing says the economic downturn has necessitated subtle clothes that are hard-wearing.

"Most of my usual luxury customers don't want fashion that screams luxury because they feel it is 'irresponsible' during this difficult time," she says. "They want something durable and worth their money."

But Nengovhela says though times are hard people still want to look good. She predicts Gothic will be hot fashion next year.

"In times like these the fashion industry seeks inspiration from design patterns of the 1930s," Nengovhela says. "This new trend will be characterised by a new pureness of lines centred on cut rather than decoration.

"Dresses will be longer, with high necklines, ruffles and flowing layers of chiffon. There will be a combination of lilac and grey, with a quite attractive smoky look."

Fashion guru Felipe Mazibuko agrees with Nengovhela. He says that during hard times designers embrace restraint with a dark palette and severe silhouette.

He says fashion trends are often the early heralds of economic change.

"Because of financial constraints, moods are shifting and a lot of people are swapping bright clothes for severe black cocktail dresses and structured suits.

"During the next season the ramps are likely to see lots and lots of black and this doom and gloom is likely to spill over on the red carpets," Mazibuko says. "I think it's a reflection of practicality and reality."

He says in tough times people want clothes that are real and lasting - and black reflects that.

"It's what you can bank on and it's the most elegant colour."

Zanele Magaxa, a psychologist, says black is the colour people rely on most often in tough times.

"Black is the colour people wrap themselves in to become invulnerable to the outside world.

"It's a security cover," Magaxa says. "You can wear black with anything and you can wear it many times without people noticing."

In the fashion world black means different things to different cultures.

Mazibuko says throughout history black clothes had many and often contradictory meanings for various cultures.

"In Africa the colour signifies death but in other parts of the world it is a symbol of power, elegance, urbanity, subversion and sex appeal," Mazibuko says.

Given the reputation of the colour in Africa, how is this Gothic fashion statement going to be received in South Africa?

Mazibuko says there is no need for concern. The people who can afford these styles and colours are enlightened urban dwellers who are not affected by beliefs and myths.


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