Doreen Southwood is an accomplished designer from South Africa, her summer 2011 campaign is impossibly chic. The model Akuol de Mabior has a look reminiscent of the "great" Alex Wek. The clothing are 1950s silhouettes, minus the potential vintage feel. Pleated cottons, thoughtful color blocking, and a dash of feminine mystique. The Line is impeccably styled and looks as if when worn a fan machine will accompany every step. Ms. Southwood has a store in South Africa called Mememe. With a devoted local fan base and growing web attention. The rapid spread of the summer look book hasn't fazed Ms. Southwood instead she chooses to redirect the attention towards her country. "Creative expression seems to thrive within the diversity of our surroundings. Designers have to re-invent themselves continuously and there are many places outside ones comfort zone to apply visually". She follows by saying, "I love South Africa for its resilience." On entry into her website it states with vigor,
"We love South Africa and believe in building our country and fashion industry one dress at a time."
DT: When did you first realize fashion was your calling?
DS: Clothing has always been a huge interest of mine. From childhood years I was surrounded by woman who loved fashion and the experience of shopping. While studying Fine Art from the University of Stellenbosch, I opened a small clothing show room called MeMeMe. Ms. Southwood opened her first store in Cape Town South Africa in a budding fashion district. With the launch of her first store other creatives followed. In Early 2011 she opened her second store with partner Milisuthando Bongela in Johannesburg. This location has even attracted the likes of Scarlett Johansen. DT: Who is the girl you have in mind when you design?
DS: I design for the MeMeMe client. She does not necessarily follow trends but is aware of her identity when getting dressed.
DT: Why is fashion relevant to culture in your perspective?
DS: The clothing one wears reflects the decisions made by any individual on a daily basis. Ones appearance reflects a way of life at a certain time. Fashion reflects the changes within culture. DT: How Do you stay "Creative"?
DS: My creativity is sparked by personal interest. I have a slightly obsessive nature... creatively this is helpful.
DT: Who are other "Creatives" that influence you or you admire. DS: Locally, anyone who can make something from nothing. Writer and blogger Milisuthando Bongela is a prime example of a person creating influence and interest in a sub-culture of fashion. I love various designers for different reasons. Rei Kawakubo for her resilience to fit into one category. Balenciaga and Junya Watanabe for the use of sculptural elements and beautiful installations. Marni for eclectic designs and many more.
Ms. Southwood represents a strong creative movement coming out of South Africa. Her partner Milisuthando Bongela of the blog,"Miss Milli B" has linked together creatives all over South Africa and internationally. Her subject matter is often up and coming local designers and her irreverent fashion insights. She is young, funny, and represents a generation of bloggers making there dreams happen. Doreen Southwood has surrounded herself with unlimited creative resources and it shows. We are already anticipating her next line and mesmerizing lookbook.