The Zeitgeist is an exhibition and showcase currently showing at BKhz gallery and studio curated by the founder and visual artist Banele Khoza. Khoza's background in fashion and his awareness of the evolution of the fashion industry influenced creating the exhibition.
"I started noticing the fact that ready-to-wear has become more prominent, especially in the South African context. And even internationally with less design houses doing couture, whereas couture is normally the front-face of a brand. Then I started looking into South Africa and noticed that designers are now focusing on ready-to-wear and what will look good if its worn by someone such as an influencer or a celebrity. And then for me, that immediately signaled the idea of the death of couture and I felt like whoa, that can't be happening.
Designers have mentioned that there is no market for couture, like yes, you can do it, but no one is redefining couture. And then I had the question; how do you facilitate a space for that?"
Khoza focused on bringing in emerging designers instead of established ones since many emerging designers don't have the resources or infrastructure for public studios for their clientele or the general public to walk into their space and engage with their designs. So this exhibition is a way to facilitate that and at the same time look at the future of fashion, being mindful that the now informs the future. Emerging designer and Lisof fashion student Siyabonga Mtshali's exhibited garment is from his upcoming collection for his final year showcase Siyababa A/W 20. The collection theme is centred around phobias that people face daily, the skirt represents fat phobia because it moves away from the body, Siyabonga adds, "I wanted people think that looking bigger is still attractive."
Siyababa was worn by Soweto-bred emerging model Zinhle Gift Mthembu who has been modelling for six months. She candidly shares her experience of being a part of the exhibit "coming from where I'm from, and my background, I wasnt seen as a girl who would be in such spaces and in the presence of those who attended, you know. So for me, it has been a journey to experience that I can just sit in front of these (types of) people and still be me. "
Johannesburg-based designer Neo Serati Mofammere is the brains behind his eponymous design label Nao Serati. "When I think about zeitgeist I think about right now. The heavy flow of everyday, Mass culture, replica and trend influencers. As a designer it’s easy to overstrain in the flow because fashion at its core is right now its overnight and the easiest way to read the time we are in currently. I slowed down for this project and took my head out of the water. My thought was “what about the harmony’s” Another truth about the human experience. This piece is about slowing down to reveal other human strengths and beauties low breaths and harmonies".
Nao Serati was worn by model Curtis Cornwall hailing from Eersterust. This exhibition was the first time Curtis was semi nude in a public space, so that brought about the conversation of objectification. For Curtis, remaining composed and fulfilling his role was his focus, "so irrespective of what I wear, you know, people are going to have their opinion, I can only do what I do to the best of my ability in order to portray the narrative in the way that it's meant to be carried across. I cannot legislate for what anyone is going to think. And subsequently, all I can do is deliver what I do to the best of my ability, the better I can do that, the better the chances are of even breaking down the way that they previously looked at it [his semi nude body] before. You know, the preconceived ideas they had when walking into the gallery space since I was in line with the entrance."
The Zeitgeist is an interesting direction in an evolving fashion industry, it embodies the creative aspect of design that people are still yearning for when attending fashion shows. It is showing at BKhz in Braamfontein until the 20th of August. Also part of the exhibition is Thebe Magugu, LONG SEASON, [NOTHING], Zazi Luxury, Kentse Masilo, TN Collectiv, Unknown* Untitled, and AMEN by Brad and Abiah.
Photography: Fortune Flank
Writing: Phendu Kuta