In the year 2008, a new fashion range emerged in South Africa, an inaugural showcase by Karishma Design. It was titled "New Frontiers," an ode to the vibrant nation, imprinted with the opulence inherited from colonial forefathers and the crown, interwoven with the essence of my travels through the grandeur of Europe. This collection narrated the juxtaposition of the past, passed down through generations, shaping a fresh tale—a captivating African Romanticism, slowly crafted by makers who I hold dear to my heart. Ingrid Bailey.. Daughter of Sally and Richard, a family who introduced me to fine clothing and to the world of manufacturing in Cape Town. A family whose history and story fold into mine and without whom, my story may not have started…
Imagine a scene set at the Mount Nelson Hotel, or the opulent buildings lining Cape Town's Company Gardens and the grand Parade. As I strolled through these lanes, a symphony of scents filled the air, mingling with the aroma of spices. It was as if I was traversing the lanes of history, where the best of everything melded into one mesmerizing tapestry. And there, my eyes caught the glimpse of a purple brocade, a stiff textile from the 1960s, whispering stories of bygone eras, inspiring new stories to be told, brought together with decadent quilting and taffetas emblematic of a victorian formal lounge. A luminescence exuded from each garment, a glimmer of hope for an unknown yet promising future. These designs questioned what Africa could have become if the colonists had not conquered but had instead co-created. How would the continent have flourished, influenced rather than overtaken? New Frontiers beckoned, drawing inspiration from the utopian words of Star Trek's Next Generation, envisioning Africa as a technologically advanced world, leading the way and being supported by the West. A world of co-creation, not colonization.
Fabrics and Styling
Romanticism wove through the fabric of this range, where old shapes found new life. Masculinity donned a feminine veil, embracing the beauty of duality. Nostalgia tugged at the heartstrings, evoking memories of Jan Van Riebeek and the Dutch East India Company, all intertwined with the essence of a futuristic Blade Runner-esque world. Remnants from bygone times breathed new existence into the present, as I, after nearly a decade away from South Africa, returned home.
The collection reveled in the remembrance of old colonial South Africa, where rich tapestries, purple and gold brocade, soft leather, opulent taffetas, Victorian-style homeware fabrics, delicate laces, and chunky knits coalesced in harmony. Symbolic of a future world that clung to fragments of nostalgic pasts, this range bridged the fallen worlds of yesteryear, paying homage to their legacy. It was a tribute to the past, passed down through the annals of time.
Architectural inspirations found their way into the designs, celebrating the structural beauty of the past while embracing a taste for the fusion of the feminine and masculine. It was an embodiment of the harmonious coexistence of contrasting elements, seamlessly blending into a vision that transcended conventional boundaries.
"New Frontiers" was a symphony of emotions, crafted by our amazing makers in Elisies River, Cape Town, a narrative spun with threads of history, longing, and a yearning for a future where the African continent stood tall, propelled by collaboration and mutual respect. It was a poetic saga brought to life through fashion, inviting all who witnessed its splendor to step into a world where possibilities knew no bounds.
2008: MNT Fashion Week, Durban, South Africa
2008: Women's Day Entrepreneurs in Action Showcase event, Durban, South Africa
2013: Eco Fashion Week, Wellington, NZ
2023: Pacific Fusion Fashion Show, South Auckland
Produced in Elsies river, Cape town and Waterloo township, Durban.