Riky’s Ode to Chulaap |
On the back-end of last night’s SAMA’s, there has been a lot of social media hype about the South African Red Carpet and the fashion pallets of most of our country’s most distinguished artists.
To be totally honest, I really could not care less. SAMO was not created with the intent of providing feedback on uninspiring red carpet looks which come from celebrities who do not even bother to push boundaries and put together visually stimulating outfits. Instead, there is a usual regurgitation of the same clothes (especially) made by the same designers, which spoils my experience of any South African Red Carpet events.
While flicking through my Twitter feed I noticed a post someone had made about Riky Rick’s outfit, mocking the hip-hop artists choice of dress for the night. As I opened up the picture, immediately I noticed that is was a Chulaap design. I had personally come across Chulaap (owned and created by Chu Suwannapha) earlier on this year and I was captivated by his AW18 Menswear collection titled “African-boho-dapper”. (Check out his work on IG @chusuwannapha)
This is the exact same collection which was featured on Italian Vogue for its disruptive nature and abundance of references sourced from African culture. It was revered as a collection which came from a designer who “knew exactly what he was trying to do in the South African fashion industry” and who’s fashion footprint was increasing exponentially as the years drew.
So this article comes two fold ideation wise: firstly, out of frustration at the lack of understanding that the South African media has to fashion at face value and secondly, to give more context into the deeper underlying references which came from Riky and Chulaap himself, according to my own interpretation.
As mentioned before, the look was taken from Chulaap’s AW18 Menswear collection in Cape Town
I found the show to be tremendously brave; one thing I appreciate about Chulaap and Chu Suwannapha himself is the bold statement that he is always making with his garments. His natural strength is pattern-making, which comes in the form of contrasting colours, shapes, lines and much more. Himself and Laduma (@laduma) could be classified as similar designers. He has an innate eye for colour-blocking and this is quite evident in his pieces from previous collections below:
This collection included a whole lot of knitwear; jerseys, scarves, balaclavas etc. The part which loses most South Africans is the fact that they digest outfits in their entirety and lack the ability to see those same outfits as “individual pieces”. Once one item of clothing seems absurd, then by default the whole outfit was “trash” – which is a dangerous trait to have. Below i have included the same collection but without the balaclavas; still think its garbage?
With that being said, one needs to understand the importance of styling for an outfit to have its intended impact
In my previous blog post, I mentioned the importance that Lotta Volkova (Balenciaga/Vetements stylist) has on those two houses and their rapid success of recent. Without stylist’s, clothes are really just that; clothes. Stylist’s existence is of critical importance as they act as the vehicle through which clothes aim to “come alive”.
My personal take is that an amazing stylist will always manage to use their knack for individuality to create some form of controversy. As to whether you will like it or not? That is totally up to you. Fashion is a house which is built upon a foundation that is bound by subjectivity and free-thinking.
I could not help but notice a few “Margiela-esque” references, but ”in African terms”
Disclaimer: This is more of a personal and subjective take but whenever I looked at the models walking down the runway in that collection, i felt a surge of Margiela references within me. No ordinary Margiela references but in African terms; which were characterised by masks as balaclavas, deconstructed patterns and fabrics being blended in an awfully-pleasing manner. I have included a few images below:
My final take: Riky Rick’s importance in South African Fashion
I cannot lie, the choice Riky made to wear an all-Chulaap outfit to the SAMA’s came to me as a surprise. I say this because he is very well-known for having an avid admiration for overseas Luxury Houses/Brands (i.e Gucci, Balenciaga and J.W Anderson).
So coming into this, him slapping on an elegant Prada suit would have been my expected guess at his desired outfit of choice. But him deciding to wear the Chulaap outfit instantly triggered two thoughts in my mind: one is that he is using himself as “the mass platform” for local designers to showcase their art. It sort of feels as if he was truly advocating for Africanism in a fashion sense.
Secondly, I feel as if Riky Rick displayed an element of maturity and comfort with this outfit choice. Logically, when you are able to access brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga with relative ease, the need to display it constantly to the public must surely decline and exponentially so. So with that being considered, you start branching out and looking into more intriguing designers, which you can access at a fraction of the price (since they are local) and who represent a story which is much more similar and relatable to yours.
My final take is that people are not asking the correct questions and that is by virtue of a lack of knowledge. There is not enough support for local pioneers (such as Riky and Chu) who are trying to show the public new ideas. Instead, there is a rife social media sensationalism which further depreciates the value of South African fashion and media at large. Don’t even get me started on some of these local TV channels and their presenter’s who themselves don’t understand the fundamentals of fashion and further add to the mockery of an industry which is dear to our hearts. (But I guess I will vent about that in another issue)
Otherwise thank you for reading, keep spreading love and always open up your minds to new information. Make your own decisions, don’t be fooled by social media propaganda and don’t sit too close to the TV.