Monday, 18 April 2011



Designer Vanessa Gounden presented her debut collection at the glorious Banqueting House in Whitehall.

What makes this debut collection different is that Vanessa is not straight out from college; she is in the prime of her life and has used her own colourful and rich life experiences as inspiration for the designs.  Of Indian descent, Vanessa grew up in South Africa on her family’s small holding where she helped cut and prepare roses for sale to florist. Vanessa G the label has taken the red rose as their logo and the rose heads could be seen everywhere at the show, decorating the bar area, the side tables, the catwalk show and even the carpet at the reception was black with digital rose prints.

Due to apartheid growing in South Africa, Vanessa and her family had to leave their livelihood and were removed to a dormitory township with minimal facilities. Here Vanessa played an active role in the trade union movement and served in the Nelson Mandela administration after South Africa’s first democratic election in 1944. This experience equipped Vanessa with high business acumen but also with a strong desire to help those equally deserving but less fortunate.

Her collection takes unique pieces of art from unsung artists and transforms them in to timeless classic which are handcrafted for individuals who are equally passionate about the arts and fashion.

The catwalk was impressive and ran along the sides of the hall with a large facade of coliseum like arches at the front. Inside these arches, lasers projected films of nature (rivers, flowers, skies etc) at the right time to correspond with the prints on the model’s garments.  Opening the show was the moody monochrome film of clouds with the models wearing grey and white photographic prints with just a touch of pale pink. The prints were of the sea, clouds, windswept umbrellas, skylines and pink flamingos.

Tights were embellished with hanging sequins, sheath dresses lightly skimmed the body, trousers were high waisted and slim, and jackets finished at the waist with ¾ length sleeves. Coats ranged from the classic trench to the glamorous 1950’s swagger style. However the classic trench was given a twist with the digital photographic prints -loved the one in pale blue with the photographic art of woman and umbrella splashing in the sea.

We now swapped black and white film to colour and it was the turn of the florals, greenery and the earth.  Here the models garments merged with the large photographic prints hanging behind them, clearly showing the full picture of the digital prints on the clothes.

The next stage saw the colour palette change to a striking  black and red combination. The print here of red flora was larger with more background space. 

Vanessa G cleverly includes the different styles of the classic look in her collection, making sure all classic women will find something they love. From the above the knee fitted sheath dress, the mid calf A line skirt, the pencil skirt to the cute high waisted retro 50’s full dress which was given an update with a shorter length.

Vanessa G brand is for the upwardly mobile and well-heeled woman who is looking for a new contemporary experience and to own a piece of art through her clothes.  'Art’Outure', a mix of Art and Couture - the ultimate statement of luxury.

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky

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