FASHION. ISSUE 27 : GERT-JOHAN COETZEE | Malusi Malanga for YSL Beauté. & BK Dikobe (IMAN Cosmetics) | Interview with Lwazi Hadebe | Devonshire Hotel – Johannesburg | February, 2015. Directed & Photographed by Lawrence Manyapelo.
His clientele spans a wide spectrum of women, from Public Prosecutor Thuli Mandonsela and Miss World Rolene Strauss, to Bonang Matheba and even international stars like Kelly Rowland among others. Gert Johan Coetzee is South Africa’s fashion prodigy.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE COLLECTION YOU’RE SHOWCASING IN THIS ISSUE.
“This is my latest collection, for Autumn Winter 2015. The inspiration behind it was to focus on HIV and question why South Africa is still the country with the highest infection rate in the world. This collection has a very strong message with a social conscience: talk about HIV, take care of yourself, don’t think of it as just a red ribbon that you wear on a lapel.”
THANDO HOPA IS WEARING A NUMBER THAT HAS A UNIQUE SHAPE OF EMBROIDERY ON HER UPPER TORSO.
“The deep red Swarovski crystals I used on this top symbolizes drops of blood… With blood being the vehicle for HIV. It is an honor to be the African ambassador for Swarovski Crystals, having the access to so many wonderful embellishments that is unavailable in South Africa.”
HOW WAS IT BEING PHOTOGRAPHED BY LAWRENCE MANYAPELO, FOR THE 2ND TIME NOW?
“Lawrence knows very well that he is one of my favorite creative to work with. He just brings out that zest in models and even in me, who is not used to taking pictures all the time. It’s fun to work with him and he is very creative and the whole Previdar team is just amazing and artistic.”
GOING BACK TO THAT 8-YEAR-OLD BOY HIS FATHER GAVE R30 TO GET MATERIAL, DID YOU THINK IT WOULD TURN OUT THE WAY IT DID?
“You know, I must say, you’re always surprised. My dream was for it to be this big and even bigger but to see it become a reality and to see how womens faces light up when they wear a GJC is just amazing, every day is a new surprise and I can never get used to it.”
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GENERATE REVENUE?
“I started my business because I knew from the word go that I had to sell – this was not just a hobby for me. It was all about hard work, and about slowly growing my resources so that I could build a business, employ staff, buy fabric, sell more dresses, constantly learning and improving on what I can deliver. For many years there were no luxuries in our lives. I was lucky to always have Vicky, now my husband, backing me up. We worked as a team to row this boat through the deep waters needed to build a sustainable business.”
TALK ABOUT THE BURSARY THAT YOU GIVE WITH THE NORTH WEST SCHOOL OF DESIGN?
“We’ve given the bursary to four students already. It is very important to give back and to share – the bursary gives me the opportunity to find raw talent and polish it over the course of three years. And it is paying off: John Wayne Keyser was our first beneficiary; he graduated last year and stepped right into a nice paying job.”