“A unique experience, a celebration of beauty and a departure from the mundane” is what designers Malcolm Kluk and Christiaan Gabriël Du Toit set out to create with KLûK CGDT’s show at AFI’s Spring/Summer 2016 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town.
On Saturday evening (1 August) they therefore hosted about 400 guests at CAAM Gallery in De Waterkant for a collaborative fashion event with Levi’s and nine hand-picked photographers and videographer Roice Nel who documented the project in a series of fashion films. “We always try to find new ways to present our collections. This season, the artisanal quality of fashion was important to us, the couture, the exclusive, the luxury, the made-to-order aspect of it, which is what KLûK CGDT is all about. It made sense to play with the idea of art and create an exhibition that would last longer than a catwalk show.” Hence Artisan, the name they chose for the collection.
The 31 looks have a strong Asian influence – “following our trip to Tokyo earlier this year it definitely has an Asian/Oriental aspect although the feel is more one of holiday and resort dressing” – and includes kimono gowns and jackets, kaftans and boxy shapes to offset ’50s-style slim-fit pencil skirts and cigarette pants. A ballerina skirt and flared coatdress further echo this era. The predominant colour spectrum ranges from burgundy through grape and tobacco to coral, all used in conjunction with Levi’s denim.
For the fabrics, the designers worked with imported silkscreened satin, burnt-out velvet, brocade, guipure lace, crêpe and bouclé – and of course, Levi’s denim. Says Kluk, “Ours has been a long love affair with denim. Our very first collection, before we ever produced anything under the KLûK CGDT label, was a 10-piece range to complement Levi’s’ denim. We believe that this will be a ‘denim season’ and the opportunity to reimagine this timeless fabric in our way was too good to pass up.”
According to Candace Gilowey, Levi’s marketing manager for Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan, the timing was perfect as it coincides with the global launch of Levi’s’ new women’s collection. “Levi’s has always been about pioneering and we are always looking to innovate. This latest collection therefore uses the latest fabric innovations and slimming technologies, the most advanced stretch and recovery denim, and signature Levi’s details and finishes.”
The Levi’s designs incorporated in the collection are from the brand’s original Red Tab and its young, progressive Black Tab ranges. Kluk and Du Toit used bleaching, painting and deconstructing techniques to reimagine the Red Tab Levi’s Originals pieces, saying, “It was amazing to play with the machines in the Levi’s factory.” When not remodeling Levi’s pieces, KLûK CGDT created original designs using Levi’s denim.
KLûK CGDT’s shows are always highly anticipated and have a reputation for being one of the showstoppers at any fashion week. This season, they continued to evolve and surprise by turning their show into a celebration of art and fashion by commissioning three limited-edition prints from each photographer that were exhibited on the night along with KLûK CGDT’s installations. Kluk explains: “The brief was completely open. We wanted them to be creative without any commercial restraint. Call it our Andy Warhol/Factory moment!”
The guests were able to view the printed lookbook on display, which included the photographs exhibited at the event. The prints went on sale at the event and will continue to be exhibited at the CAAM Gallery until 8 August 2015. Twenty percent of the proceeds will be donated to The Sunflower Fund.
Others who contributed to the glamorous event are Orms’ Mike Ormerod, who assisted with the printing and mounting of the photographs; CAAM Gallery that hosted the event; three fully-stocked bars by Tanqueray, the world’s finest gin, which kept guests going throughout the evening along with Vita Coco fresh coconut water; Vagabond Kitchens who created seriously cool sliders and fries to continue the Factory feel. Beats by DJ Dario Leite further set the tone.