Excitement levels ran high at Milner Fashion House (MFH) the past few months as ERRE, our resident fashion designers, prepared to launch a collection in Paris. For a while, MFH was overrun with design sketches, inspiration images, fabric swatches and sample garments - but now that the hectic rush has passed and our brilliant ladies have returned from Europe we took the chance to quiz them about their experience in Paris.
What was the reception to the ERRE collection like in Paris?
The audience was surprised but delighted by our bright colour scheme. The popping brights were definitely unexpected.
I think there is a certain expectation that African designers use a lot of patterns and prints in their garments in general. A lot of people commented on the fact that we showed a collection using solid colours/monochrome shades with the focus on the bold silhouettes.
A crowd favourite was the pink quilted jacket made out of woven mohair that features massive dominating sleeves.
The Parisians find our approach to fashion very interesting in that we focus so heavily on our consumer's differing body shapes and sizes when designing a collection as opposed to designing with an ideal figure or concept in mind.
What was the experience like for you?
It was exhilarating to show a collection in Paris for the first time and at such a beautiful venue - Hotel Salomon de Rothschild. And what an honour to represent South Africa at the Africa Fashion Up show. The day of the fashion show was truly an adventure on its own, from dragging massive boxes full of ERRE fashion over cobbled streets to that final moment when the first model walks out on the runway and to then socialise afterwards with the Gallerie Lafayette and Balenciaga team members!
But one of our favourite days by far was visiting the Kering Headquarters set in the Historic 17th Century renovated Laennec hospital in the heart of Paris in the 7th Arrondissement. At this space, we attended a masterclass with Balenciaga where we learned how important sustainability and the Couture industry is in the greater context of fashion, and how this forms part of this historic brand's design strategy.
Another highlight of the day was a guided tour viewing some of Balenciaga's couture pieces from the 1950s and having the opportunity to ask/ bombard a Balenciaga employee on the textiles and construction techniques used in these beautiful masterpieces.
We hope that we can use the knowledge we gained to grow our brand and the South African fashion industry and we would love to share what we learned with young SA fashion brands.
How do you feel now that it’s over?
Inspired! Inspired to create something new and yet to stick to our gut when it comes to our brand values.
The general feedback from all the different fashion insiders we met in Paris was that we are so lucky to be a fashion brand in South Africa at this point in time. We have the knowledge to cater for our very diverse clientele and to be truly sustainable from the get-go. And to always stick with our "gut" (in other words to do the research and than have the creative vision to follow through)
What can we expect from ERRE moving forward?
We will invest in our brand values because it is important and solid: offering South African women powerful clothing pieces that are made for her. With our brand SA women should never worry about fitting into our clothing, our clothing should fit her! And that, in turn, supports the local economy. Power dressing redefined.
We will proudly show at SA Fashion Week on 29 October.
On the advice of Balenciaga & Gallerie Lafayette, we would like to expand on homeware and experiential retail experiences at our host property, Milner Fashion House.
Want to see this collection up close and personal? Drop in at the ERRE studio store at MFH - where you can see this collection and shop the current commercial collection. Store Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 - 17:00 Address:161 Milner Street (Cnr Milner Street & Florence Robeiro Avenue) Waterkloof, Pretoria