Jaques van der Watt is the design genius behind Joburg-based fashion label, Black Coffee. The brand has become synonymous with designs which forge new aesthetic trajectories and boldly push the creative envelope rather than pander to passing fashion trends.
Jaques has always had design and construction on the brain. As a schoolboy he had an innate fascination with figuring out how things worked and fitted together, and so would deconstruct anything and everything, including clothes. His subsequent move into fashion design was therefore a natural projection of this interest, complimented by an instinctive aesthetic flair.
Each of Jaques’ collections for Black Coffee draws inspiration from a different source. However he explains that he always returns to Africa for inspiration, which he then interprets in a very modern way. This is evident in much of his work, which strongly references the geometric design found in African textiles, and in his installation for the Mercedes-Benz fashion award, which was inspired by the Himba tribe in Namibia.
“I am always searching for new solutions for the modern wardrobe”, he explains, “I love every collection we make. I put my heart and soul into every range I design”.
Using his iPad as a sketchbook, Jaques finely crafts his design magic at the drawing stage. For the Black Coffee Winter 2014 collection, he has created CONTOUR, a range of garments that expose and distort the body whilst simultaneously streamlining and transforming the silhouette. The range is extreme yet wearable, and characterised by couture like hand-finishing, modern textiles and the detailed interplay between layered surfaces.
“The velocipedic inspiration drives the design to a point where efficiency, comfort, motion and aesthetic meet seamlessly”, he explains. Concurrent with CONTOUR is a bespoke accessories range for the urban cyclist, inspired by the beauty of electric cycle motion and the Cycology brand of imported bikes. Chanelle Vlok collaborated on the Velocopede Accessories Range, creating millinery that is both minimalist and functional yet can be reconfigured to fulfill the needs within the journey of the cyclist.
Currently, Jaques and his team are busy with their Summer Collection for 2014. What shape and form this will take we don’t yet know. However, what we can be certain of is that it will be boundary-pushing, possibly even down to the way in which consumers get their hands on it. “I am still focusing on growing the local market”, Jaques explains, “I believe we have a lot of potential in this country. I believe in the next few years the web-based stores will become very important as shopping behaviours change”. We’re excited to find out what exactly this means.
Presented by the new untamed Mercedes-Benz CLA