Last year, Johannesburg based photographer Chris Saunders teamed up with New York based fashion designer Jenny Lai on a cross-cultural, collaborative project spanning disciplines and involving five different creatives from Cape Town and Johannesburg. The project, entitled NOT X Chris Saunders, aimed to “explore, expand, and celebrate the burgeoning South African fashion scene through moving images, photography, and a series of collaborative garment creations.”
The project consisted of four separate fashion collaborations whereby Jenny immersed herself in each of the creatives’ individual process and working style to collaboratively re-interpret an existing design from her NOT brand using a uniquely South African process and material. Each of these final creations became costumes worn by the fifth collaborator, Manthe Ribane, who choreographed a performance which was directed and photographed by Chris.
We published the full series of collaborations over the duration of the project, each documented in beautiful images by Chris. With Cape Town accessories designer Dennis Chuene, Jenny reworked the ubiquitous China bag into the Interlock Coat design with respect to the details of the original bag. Floyd Avenue, a menswear clothing and hat designer as well as member of The Smarteez, a DIY fashion collective from Soweto, collaborated with Jenny on a hat and cape. With vintage clothier Jean Rene Onyagunga, aka Dr Pachanga, she walked the streets of downtown Joburg sourcing secondhand garments that were up-cycled using Jenny’s patterns by a local tailor. Macdonald Mfolo (Mac D), a costume designer and puppet maker from Orange Farm, created a paper mache’d puppet to which Jenny’s colour-block print added a Pantsula flair.
Both the end garments and the accompanying photographs were exhibited at Wallplay in New York City in September last year. Now the exhibition comes home to MOAD in Johannesburg opening on the 16th April 2015 and running through to June 18th.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of four creative workshops led by the project’s collaborators that will provide attendees an inside look at the processes within the project, reveal the potential of working creatively within the inner city of Johannesburg, as well as provide the opportunity to engage with and learn new skills from the local and international artists and designers involved. The topics for the workshops include: ‘Innovation with second hand clothing’, ‘Larger than life puppets’, ‘Performance art, creative expression’, ‘Denim therapy’. The opening week’s events will also include an artists’ talk with Chris and Jenny as well as a walking tour of the Central Business District. Find out more about each session and book your ticket online.