Last month Harare International School hosted a fashion show with a difference. The one-night show, “A Century of Fashion – The Ballet”, featured a fascinating marriage of fashion and ballet. Using ballerinas as models, the show looked back at 100 years of fashion.
First up was 20th century women’s wear featuring lace and accessories, and men’s fashion focusing on formal suits. The ‘little black dress’ made famous by Coco Chanel in the 1920’s was represented by the flappers. The show also featured poodle skirts, now popularly known as circle skirts, and went on to present the introduction of cat suits, often now referred to as jumpsuits. It celebrated Michael Jackson’s influence on fashion in the 1980s and the sporty influences on fashion introduced during the 1990s. The performance also shed light on the evolution of swimwear and the acceptance of inner wear as outer wear. It covered the remarkable shift in fashion from conservative clothing to today’s provocative fashion statements.
Harare News spoke to Haleema Mekani, Creative Director of NGUWO.inc, concept creator and producer of the show. NGUWO.inc is a fashion creative agency which provides fashion concepts for styling and show production. Mekani said “For me it was more about reinterpreting how we view fashion in this country. We have seen so many fashion shows with little substance. We have seen a lot of copying of other people’s designs, a lot of repetition and nothing really interpreting what fashion is to an individual or to the public in general. I thought it would be nice to go back to the basics. It’s important to understand how fashion works, which is something we, as the local fashion industry and young upcoming designers, sometimes ignore. We need to examine where our current fashions started from and what the influences are that brought us here today. For instance, pleating is not something we just made up in the 19th century. It’s been around since Cleopatra’s time so it’s not anything new. But it’s how we have reinterpreted it, how we use pleating that’s important.”
In addition to the fashion, Zimbabwean ballet dancers performed each dance to a particular decade showing iconic trends and the people who influenced fashion at the time. It also acknowledged ballet’s longstanding influence on fashion. The dancers were from the National Ballet and Tumbuka: Peter Lenso, Amanda Norton, Sakiko Hatakenaka, Sharlinda Fernandes, Natalie Bradbury, Cristie Nel, Caroline Yule, Stacy Whyte, Bibi Eastwood and Maylene Chenjerayi (of Tumbuka). The show also featured Zimbabwean designers and musicians with choreography by Faye Jackson.
Image: A ballerina rehearsing for “A Century of Fashion – The Ballet”