Image courtesy: The Empire BW
This past Saturday the Thapong visual arts centre played host for the launch of a new local swimwear line, Printswim.
The brainchild of Ayanda Modisane, and a creative collaboration between herself and graphics designer Oarabile Dimeku of Rabimix designs, Printswim incorporates African prints from across the continent in their swimsuit designs. Having seen an exponential rise in the use of African prints, including on our very own runways and in stores since the beginning of the noughties, I was more than looking forward to seeing the overdue inclusion of these prints in a local swimwear line.
Without a doubt, the Printswim team has ventured into unchartered territory, not only have I not come across any local swimwear lines besides Aobakwe Molosiwa’s recent (and incredibly stunning) foray at this year’s Miss Botswana fashion show, I certainly hadn’t come across any that would embrace our very own shweshwe textiles.
The show was billed to start at 1730 hrs, but, as African time goes it wasn’t until over 90 minutes later that everybody was seated and the event got underway. I have to mention that I was highly impressed with the organisation of this launch regardless of the late start. Attendees were dressed to the nines, and most stuck to the African print theme. The runway was set up beautifully too and the complimentary gift boxes with Ferrero rochers were a very quaint touch.
The MCs of the night, Charles Manase and Bonolo Magowe had great chemistry and Charles, especially, kept the crowd highly entertained. After introductions, prayers and a hilarious rendition of the national anthem by the MCs and the crowd (I spotted so many guests fumbling over the words) we were treated to a rousing performance by the Mafitlhakgosi traditional group. They had even the most conservative members of the crowd shifting in their seats, fighting the urge to get up and dance; it was pure, energetic class.
We also got to hear from the man and woman of the moment, Oarabile and Ayanda on the humble beginnings of Printswim. Ayanda says she was inspired to approach Oarabile about starting the line while she was on safari in Kasane and thought it would be great to give women something to wear that made them feel confident and predatory.
The models were my favourite part about the show; although I wasn’t exactly expecting Balanchine bodied women to come strutting down the runway like we’re used to seeing on international catwalks, I was excited to see some seriously curvaceous young women donning the swimsuits. The show represented five countries: Lesotho, Mauritius, Zambia, Egypt and Botswana; with looks using traditional prints from each country. Printswim definitely kept up with current swimsuit trends, with a couple of 90s style high-cut bottoms (which are seeing a tremendous comeback) making their way down the runway. There were also high waisted bikinis which are very flattering for more fuller figured women as well as some interesting silhouettes, one boldly ruffled bikini top from the Lesotho collection and even some of the trend that might never go away: a peplum look. The collection was very cohesive and there were options for every type of customer.
I did however wonder about the practicality of regularly going into chlorinated swimming pool water with cotton fabric (which the print part of the swimsuit is made of- the rest is nylon). The Botswana collection, in particular was the piece de resistance, with the first look literally drawing gasps from guests. Though the actual fashion show was very quick, guests did get to mingle afterwards and enjoy a lovely braai and some drinks.
It is safe to say the Printswim launch was a resounding success. The event was organised exceptionally well, a rarity in this country and the collection was received well. A great precedent has been set and I hope to see what else they have in store for us in the future.