Chloe Andrea Welgemoed: The feminist punk
Costume designer made a name for herself as the hottest stylist in Africa
More than 10 years ago, stylist and production and costume designer Chloe Andrea Welgemoed’s career in fashion design ended before it even began.
But she has since made a name for herself as the hottest stylist in Africa, working with designers Thebe Magugu, Rich Mnisi, and Wanda Lephoto.
In June, she made a splash as a costume designer for the Sowetan40 x Netflix campaign. She worked with emerging designers Orapeleng Modutle, Siyababa, Sihle Masango, and Sello Medupe to create the dreamy scenes.
A custom-made two-piece using Sowetan articles went viral, with many requests for the outfit to be made available for sale.
So, when she was asked to make her long-awaited fashion design debut for S1981, Welgemoed didn’t hesitate.
“When I tried to become a fashion designer I was very inexperienced and I didn’t know anyone,” Welgemoed remembers. “I got on the phone with a big manufacturer who makes accessories for Mr Price. He was brutal and was like, I’m never going to make it. It was so honest that it helped me.
“I realised I had this passion and energy, but didn’t have the resources. And over the past 11 years, I have built the resources and relationships that allow me to do something like this.”
Welgemoed got some help from designer Rome Wepener for the streetwear get-up, featuring a print inspired by the front page of Sowetan’s 2018 Youth Day edition.
Willet Designs Couture assisted with the avant-garde suit, while Cape Town-based milliner and stylist Crystal Birch contributed to the bucket hat. Putting even more of her fashion connections to work, Welgemoed used Levi’s laser technology and embroidery machines as part of the process. She also deconstructed Adidas sneakers and created her own pair.
“What inspired me was just the image, what 1976 meant and how many kids died; and all they wanted was equal rights… I’m a bit of a feminist punk at heart and I was very moved by the front page,” Welgemoed says.
“I knew immediately that I wanted to print this image on fabric and work with the passion that these kids felt… Fashion can be a communication tool for social and political issues. I saw it as a political thing, honouring those kids for their bravery.”
Local designers have created a capsule collection in honour of Sowetan’s 40th anniversary. The affordable luxe collection will be called S1981, derived from the first letter of the Sowetan and the year it was first established (1981).