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Thursday 7th of July 2022

Nairobi, Kenya

Gert-Johan Coetzee Discusses His New Collection, Dressing Lizzo, And Establishing A Shop In The United States.

Posted On : April 5, 2022

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He’s dressed TV stars, models, beauty queens, influencers, and singers both locally and internationally.
He is the celebrity’s go-to designer. Toke Makinwa, a Nigerian actress, wore his show-stopping gown to the Bridgerton Affair, which made news across the continent.

This year, fashion designer Gert-Johan Coetzee celebrates 12 years in the industry by launching his Autumn/Winter collection, which is a collaboration with Zebra Square Gallery, Chopard’s Hyde Park Corner distributor.

The collection is made up of proudly African masterpieces with a dash of Western culture and his Afrikaans ancestry.
Gert tells Drum that he intended to put a modern spin on African baroque when creating the collection.

“After my previous collection, I wanted to really show off the next level.” I drove you all the way from Cape Town to Limpopo and the rest of our country’s warmer regions. It was inspired by wildlife, nature, and all things exotic, with a modern take on African baroque.

It’s my perspective on Africa. It’s Africa with a twist, and it’s the key to why I’ve been so successful on the world stage.”

Gert claims that he is all about making clothes that people can relate to.
“I can put a twist to the Tsonga skirt (Xhibelane) or a Zulu beaded garment while honoring my Afrikaans ancestry,” he explains.

“It provides a one-of-a-kind aesthetic that hasn’t been done anywhere else in the globe.”

He chose fuller-figured models for his new line, as he did for his prior work with Barbie.

“I am all about body positivity and inclusion, yet we don’t see fuller-figured models on the runway.” I wanted everyone on the planet to be able to imagine themselves walking down the runway. “I believe it is past time to celebrate women and their flaws,” he argues.

“I work with people of all shapes and sizes.” They occasionally express dissatisfaction with their arms, boobs, or other features. However, it is what makes you who you are, and it cannot be replaced.

I’m here to bring out the best in you, to make it shine out, and to make you feel like a fashion icon. “It’s very important for everyone to be seen and represented,” he continues. “The Barbie collection was all about inclusivity, not just body types and sizes, but also diverse religious groups, races, and sexuality.”

Lizzo, a pop sensation and body positivity advocate, wears a Gert-Johan Coetzee designer garment in the new US reality program competition Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. On March 25, the show premiered on Amazon Prime Video, and it follows 13 plus-size women as they try to become Lizzo’s dancers at the Bonnaroo music festival.

“That was a crazy experience,” Gert adds.

“I never imagined dressing Lizzo or Oprah, but I have.” It all began in October of 2021. ‘Would you be willing to do a custom piece for Lizzo?’ I received a message from Lizzo’s team requesting for a custom gown.
‘You’re asking if I’m willing to breathe,’ I reasoned. Of course, I’d like to. We started working with her stylist, Jason Rembert, and he was fantastic, and we came up with the ideal color. Her outfit was going to be orange at first, but we altered it to blue after a long but lovely process.”

One of the most difficult things Gert has had to do was keep quiet about the outfit and not share the good news.

It’s surreal for him to see his aspirations come true, he says.

“I’ve always wanted to be a designer that dresses people all around the world, and seeing that happen every day is a dream come true.”

After contacting her stylist Kollin Carter, who saw his work at the 2020 Kraal Couture presentation, he dressed rapper Cardi B in a beaded gown and corset for her husband Offset’s birthday celebration in Atlanta.

The complete gown took a week to make, and the beaded skirt was totally done by hand.

It’s surreal for him to see his aspirations come true, he says.

“I’ve always wanted to be a designer that dresses people all around the world, and seeing that happen every day is a dream come true.”

After contacting her stylist Kollin Carter, who saw his work at the 2020 Kraal Couture presentation, he dressed rapper Cardi B in a beaded gown and corset for her husband Offset’s birthday celebration in Atlanta.

The complete gown took a week to make, and the beaded skirt was totally done by hand.

Gert has dressed famous women like as Oprah Winfrey and Laura Govan for the Global Citizen event in 2018. Shudufadzo Musida, Bonang Matheba, Zozi Tunzi, Lerato Kganyago, Zodwa Mkandla, Minnie Dlamini, Nadia Nakai, and most recently Toke Makinwa, who walked the red carpet at the Bridgerton Affair in a green ball gown fit for royalty, are among his clients.

“I enjoy working with Nadia Nakai because she is always willing to try new things.
I adore all of the ladies because they are all so unique. Toke and I recently had a lot of fun. “We have a same vision for the ultimate result, and she is determined to make it happen,” he says.

“What happened to her at the Bridgerton event was borderline woman abuse because the corset she wore was sinful and very tight, and she was like ‘do it.'” I adore girls like that, who are simply open to the aesthetic and willing to be transformed. Every weekend, Toke dresses up as a different character, and she is open to fashion.”

He hopes to collaborate with artists Doja Cat and Megan The Stallion on a global scale.

“That would be a dream come true, and I am confident it will occur.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has made the last two years difficult for designers, but Gert says he has not let the pandemic keep him in a rut.

“The challenges you set for yourself are exactly what you want them to be. If you perceive anything as a challenge, you will perceive it as such. I see things as they are, and it is critical for new designers not to hunt for excuses; no one will come to your rescue. You are the only one who can motivate you to stand up. “You must perceive yourself as both a creative and a businessperson or woman,” he explains.

“Not only has the pandemic given me a gorgeous body since I’ve been working out nonstop,” she says, “but it’s also pushed my creativity.” I couldn’t go back to my old ways of being creative, so I had to come up with new ones. Rather than grumbling, he claims, he “allowed chances.”

“Most bursary programs fail due to a lack of mentorship programs. Mentorship is one of the ways I lead mine, I select two students who I believe have potential and talent, mentor them, and help them turn a drab situation into a gem.
I enjoy assisting others. Christopher Gills, my assistant designer, is a graduate of my program, and I’ve had a lot of success stories.

My pride and delight is the program, and mentoring someone means helping them build a future, whether or not they become the next Gert. “It’s all about change,” he says.

The bursary program will reopen in August this year.

“But the great news is that the outfits from this new collection will be heading all the way to the United States in the next week; I’m creating a showroom or headquarters in Los Angeles, so the clothes will be accessible for use by US celebrities when they need them.”

“I don’t take four days to ship something to Cardi B or anyone else,” he claims.

“The clothing might be accessible right away.”
Gert has also begun the process of relocating his Linden studio to a larger location in Johannesburg’s northwestern suburbs.

“We’re relocating to a larger and better studio in Bryanston, expanding to a much larger facility, and expanding, all in the pursuit of the international dream.”

Content courtesy Drum News 24 of & NFH

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