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Graduate Shows provide students with a platform to the fashion industry

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A dazzling, industry-standard fashion event at the Runway in Woodstock gave final year students the opportunity to present their designs to the fashion industry’s key players.

The Graduate Shows, which took place on 26 November 2008, featured the work of CPUT students, alongside work from the Design Academy of Fashion and the Cape Town College of Fashion Design.

The event was held in partnership with the Cape Town Fashion Council (CTIF) and African Fashion International (AFI) and was sponsored by Prefueled and Mbili.

AFI, who produced the event, is responsible for organising Virgin Mobile Cape Town Fashion Week, one of Africa’s premier fashion gatherings. The organisation gave the students a taste of what they could expect should present their work at such an event by creating a runway environment of professional production standards, including world class lighting, staging and modelling.

The garments themselves highlighted the versatility of Cape Town’s young designers. Playful urban styles and bold metallics alternated with striking monochrome minidresses and graceful evening gowns.

Work by Dominic Murray and by Faye Dowding evoked both contemporary and bygone eras by combining references to the Victorian Age with modern tailoring and materials. Tsidi Matshega’s masked models presented glamorous looks in black, gold and white. Vivid neon embellishments were present in the collections of Michel Johannessen and Masa Martinovic, while Busisiwe Bantshi opted for an earthy palette of rich reds and yellows.

Each student showcased at least five individual looks, which would form the basis of a ‘look book’ (portfolio) that could be used in his or her future career.

The Graduate Shows were conceived by the CTFC Education Sub-committee as an annual event that will streamline the introduction of graduates from fashion and textile related courses into industry. By providing them with a professionally staged fashion show, the graduates gain maximum exposure to key role players and potential employers.

“It will provide a window to what is happening at graduate level in the Western Cape,“ said Bryan Ramkilawan, CPUT Fashion Lecturer and Chairman of the CTFC Education Sub-committee, “and it will set the benchmark for quality and innovation in graduate fashion design.”

The run-up to The Graduate Shows was featured on the SABC3 series African Couture on 29 November 2008. Faye Dowding, who was selected by the event organisers as one of the top five designers, received the opportunity to dress one of SABC 3’s continuity presenters, thereby exposing her designs to an audience of 7 million viewers.

By Ilana Abratt

Photograph: Three of the designs by CPUT third year fashion students featured at The Graduate Shows