Holiday Read: The Legend We Love to Hate

posted on November 25th, 2013 by LISOF


Coco Chanel, you either love her or you hate her, however; no matter her flaws, she was undoubtedly one of the most influential people in the fashion world. In 2011 a book, Sleeping with the Enemy by Hal Vaughan, was released, unmasking the perfectly powdered face that was Chanel.  Chanel is said to be homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist and a considered a tyrant among employees, making a very interesting read.

The book revolves around Chanel’s involvement with the Nazi’s, acting as an agent for the Gestapo. What evolves is Chanel’s influence on the high echelons of French, British and German politics. Chanel’s contribution to the war effort consisted of passing on messages in the rich social circles of the French German-sympathisers. Her political reach was astounding, proving useful as she evaded prosecution, with the subtle help of friend Winston Churchill.

But to be honest the political advances of Chanel were not the most revealing aspects of the book. Chanel was tragically doomed to be alone, as the many love affairs with artists, composers, royals and politicians all ended in heartbreak. Her first love Boy Capel, dying in a car accident, set the precedent for the rest of her failed relationships. She seemed to be drawn in by dark damaged souls and power-hungry adulterers.  The Duke of Westminster was Chanel’s, figurative and literal partner in crime. The intermittent love affair spanned over many years, even after both being accused of war crimes. Throughout the book one just wants to shake Chanel, for being so flexible to each man’s ideas. What is apparent is that, this strong-willed business woman was a complete romantic, falling in love at the drop of a Bowler hat.

Her story is frustrating, knowing the extent of her talent and yet seeing her ambitious and spiteful nature. Her abuse of morphine and very suspiciously lesbian relationship with her best friend will open the reader’s eyes to the fact that she was a real woman, with real problems .The redeeming part of Chanel, was the love she had for her family, a core reason she helped the Nazi’s, exchanging her help and influence for her nephews life.

Be warned, this book although very interesting, may be too factual for some, filled with dates and names that one finds hard to read, never mind pronounce. But if you have a passion for history and fashion, this is a great read for the holidays. It’s not a light and frivolous story, for tanning on the beach, but it’s rather insightful and heavy, a perfect excuse to get away from the relatives, maintaining the excuse that it’s for learning purposes.

The last few chapters left me reflecting on the first, describing her upbringing and initial success. Was she just a victim of an anti-Semitic, bigoted and poverty stricken society she grew up in? I used to wish that I could have met her and had a chat over some afternoon tea. To be honest if I got the opportunity, I still would, for no matter how awful her actions she is still The Legend!

Madame Coco Chanel Scent of the Swastika Humor Chic by aleXsandro Palombo 2 


posted on October 30th, 2013 by LISOF

Siviwe at LISOFWhen you meet Dale Strime, Swede and Crowe’s owner, you are greeted by this friendly smile, a red beard and enough character to keep you hanging on his every word.

As fellow coffee addicts, we met in Braamfontein and proceeded to hunt for the perfect spot to get our caffeine fix.  Dahlia’s was where we settled, the perfect location for me to come to grips with the man and the brand.



posted on October 2nd, 2013 by LISOF

Lisof Bursary WinnerAt the end of August, LISOF the Leaders in the Science of Fashion gave aspiring designers the chance to win a bursary to study at either of its campuses! The competition took place at SA Fashion Week’s Pop Up Shop in Brooklyn Mall from the 29th to the 31st of August.

LISOF challenged entrants to make one-of-a-kind creations using only meters of uncut fabric and pins. “We had a lot of people take part and really amazing potential emerged with some fantastic looking garments” said LISOF CEO, Shana Rosenthal.

Seven finalists were chosen from all the entries and these were the ones that stood out in terms of over-all end product and attention to detail. Each finalist was interviewed by a panel of LISOF judges, and the winner was then chosen.

Zanya de Lange, a 27 year old Radiologist from Pretoria wowed the judges with her beautiful, sophisticated and contemporary creation and was chosen as the bursary winner. Shana also pointed out that “it’s quite a task putting together a wearable outfit that is appealing and functional using only uncut fabric and pins”.

LISOF would like to welcome Zanya to the family, and congratulate all the finalists on their wonderful entries!

For any further information on the bursary competition or to find out more on LISOF contact 086 11 (LISOF) 54763, email or check out our website,

Academic Papers

posted on September 26th, 2013 by LISOF

With a key focus on engaging critical and original thinking and writing, research plays a vital role in the broader fashion discourse, contributing to advanced scholarship, academic & professional development and entrepreneurial achievements.

The work published here includes research completed by our undergraduates (Bachelor of Arts in Fashion), postgraduates (Bachelor of Arts Honours in Fashion), lecturers and institutional managers.




Research Essay



Published Essay



Conference Paper


Citizen Cafe

posted on August 20th, 2013 by LISOF

siviwe james your future trend analyst anthropologistCitizen Cafe

101 Conrad Drive

Shop 2, Valley Heights



There was no real “mystery” when I decided to cross the road. I knew very well that I was going hunting for cake, a cupcake – anything decadent and delicious that would satisfy my sweet tooth craving. Mystery only became part of my adventure when I noticed a name that I hadn’t seen before on a door that I had never been through. At that point, mystery turned into “intrigue”.

citizen-cafe-wall-and-tablesIn the last scene of my “Momentary Guilt of Confectionary Happiness” story, there was a forest of books, sweet treats scattered sporadically throughout the corners of the space, and wildly invasive wallpaper. Imagine my surprise when I walked through the doors of my new adventure and saw that the walls were clean with images of skyscrapers surrounding me. They didn’t dominate the walls and make me feel obsolete in this unfamiliar space. Instead, I felt like I was the dominant piece of decor in that room.

I do not gush! I only gush when looking at clothing and fast cars, BUT in general, I DO NOT GUSH! Again, imagine how in awe I was of the minimalist style decor which explored a handcrafted warmth with counters made from old and abandoned wooden furniture, table tops which matched the owners kitchen counter tops at home, photographs had been turned into wallpaper, and “antique-style” patterns covering the ceiling boards. The name of the cafe was inspired by Alanis Morrisette’s song Citizen of the Planet and while exploring the interior, you feel like you are a part of the bigger picture.

The mystery had been solved. And the sweet tooth satisfied.

citizen-cafe-student-discountsCitizen cafe wasn’t the Rhinoplasty effect on what used to be; instead it was the full LIFT. They stripped this little corner of happiness and exposed it for all its natural beauty. When speaking to one of the owners, Richard Thomson, he mentioned how the cafe was an extension of their home.

Their ‘homely’ aesthetic not only shows in the interior but also in the service they provide to their customers and employees. This personalised service is a concept that he kept on reiterating helped him and his co-owner develop the idea to remove the rigid restrains felt in creative environments. He described this little haven as “A community centre for more than just food.”

I asked Richard what the idea was when he and Johnny Lopes, or “J.LO” as they would call him, purchased this space. He proudly said that they wanted to create a space where ideas, information and talents are exchanged.

They have decided to include Community Exchange System (CES) events to their repertoire. The idea behind CES is “A community-focused system in order to build a community and keep the wealth where it is created… These systems provide infinite opportunities for exchanging one’s narrow specialisations for goods and services offered by others.”

Finally the space for modern-day people to create networks of information with like-minded individuals over a freshly brewed cup of Americano has been created. While Richard and I fumbled off on our own rambling spree about this topic of sharing ideas in a creative space, he made a very honest comment which was, “What else is out there for us if we do not share what we have with others” referring to the act of giving without expecting any reward. And that’s exactly what Citizen Cafe is about.

Facebook – Citizen Cafe
Email – Citizen Cafe
Tel: (011) 326 3339

menu-front menu-inside citizen-cafe-wall-and-tables citizen-cafe-student-discounts citizen-cafe-store-layout citizen-cafe-moto

Thebe Magugu featured on Vogue Italia

posted on by LISOF

Congratulations to LISOF student Thebe Magugu on having photos from his fashion shoot titled “The Auto-Exotic Gaze” approved by Vogue Italia’s PhotoVogue initiative. The shoot, which uses the photographer’s hometown Kimberley as a milieu, explores how international fashion media sees Africa and how we as Africans in turn repackage ourselves to fit that static canon.

“African fashion has long had a cemented (and offensively inaccurate) representation in international media. If asked to summate our alleged style – they give key words like ‘tribal’, ‘print-prone’, ‘volumous’ and any other pretty euphemism which essentially boil down to ‘static’. The Far East suffers a similar fate, where there is – even in what must be the height of globalisation – a highly romanticised depiction. I wanted to explore this image of Africa in irony”.

The two photos from the series on Vogue Italia’s PhotoVogue were approved into Thebe’s portfolio on the 3rd of June 2013

Thebe Magugu Thebe Magugu


Designers: LISOF graduate Chantelle Fourie and accessories by Kenyan designer Liz Ogumbo

Models: Geraldine Mojaki and Tegan Wakeford.

Assistant: Sheldon Wakeford

“Aspiring to Inspire”

posted on August 7th, 2013 by LISOF

For the majority of students LISOF truly is a home away from home -and with mock-up viewings for the annual LISOF fashion show drawing closer I think we all wish it were open 24/7. I think we’ve all experienced that awkward moment when you’ve completely lost track of time and someone politely walks into the studio you’re in to kindly remind you that the school is closing. Fact is, LISOF really has created a comfortable environment for us to all work in and flourish.

If you haven’t already had the chance to see the posters on the notice boards I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a very integral part of our other home.

The SRC:

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I asked Abu – head of Social Media and Events to share a little bit on what the SRC is about and what they’re doing at the moment; here’s what she had to say:

We’ve based our mantra on ‘Aspire to Inspire’. So with that we do – we’d like to have fun, reflect LISOF’s student culture while remaining ourselves. We embrace our individuality and live through our ‘passion for fashion’. LISOF is 20 this year so why not embrace change, create a more unified ‘student life’ & celebrate each memory?

With that said, we’re trying to create unity at the college and make our college experience more memorable which is why we introduced our twitter account because of how instant it is, along with numerous charity campaigns as well as the current ‘LISOF t-shirt design competition’ and the upcoming year-end celebration.

We aim to work with, and for the students and genuinely appreciate more input as we’re trying to best reflect and represent the students. We’re also integrating national initiatives that affect us as South Africans; like Youth Day/ Women’s Day and of course, ‘giving back’ – we’ve introduced winter campaigns and fundraisers for our chosen charities for this year; Cotlands and Sparrow.

So, In essence, keep us updated on YOU & we’ll try to best communicate student concerns so the college experience is better for all. And we have our twitter account for chic ‘Style finds & OOTD’s’ – for more of an interactive aspect.

We hope to create a long-standing legacy amongst students and represent what LISOF is really is about. “Aspiring to Inspire”. We hope our upcoming SRC will continue to #AspireToInspire..

Should anyone have queries with the SRC or are interested in what it’s about, don’t hesitate to e-mail us at: .. And feel free to tweet us about how much you’re enjoying studying/ your ‘outfit of the day’/ or upcoming fashion-related opportunities or events you’d love to share.

SmARTy Pants

posted on July 30th, 2013 by LISOF

Over the last two weeks the third years have been trying to associate a connection between art and fashion in trend and fashion theory classes. In a school where every student has an opinion and every opinion must be considered, it’s like watching a debate on Jerry Springer with impeccable clothes.

There are several questions circling our minds… does art affect fashion or does fashion affect art? Is art fashion on the runway the same way that fashion is art in a gallery? What happens when these are seen on the street; is there an art to street fashion or is street fashion a form of art? And most importantly, what time does the canteen close?

All this whilst lecturers wait patiently for students to pull themselves towards themselves in a hope that they might get a turn to talk. I have a feeling it’s going to happen for them someday soon, they just need to keep strong. 😉

Well, whilst all these questions continue to cause much debate, the one thing that has everyone on the same trending boat is the art in fashion. With the Spring season on its way, the introduction of bright colours through the use of comics and pop art mash ups is being spotted on almost every trend report globally.

From Warhol inspired prints, to Blondie colour palette’s and Disney character embroidery, this comics inspired aesthetic has even been spotted on our local runways at the Dax Martin Show in 2012. With striped t-shirts to brave nail art and loud logo’s this trend is putting the “POW!!!!” back in street style.

Ciao for now.


A Hong Kong Experience

posted on July 20th, 2013 by LISOF

A bustling city which sees streets clear up at 1 AM, shops closing at 11 PM, a street culture which calls for nothing but individualism, an interpretation of your personal style instead of a look taken straight of tumbler, Hong Kong is definitely a cultural hub one needs to visit, especially if you are a creative.

Surprisingly the youth in an emerging market such as Hong Kong are tired of conspicuous consumption, as prints ridiculing haute couture brands can easily be spotted in the streets of Hong Kong.

Malls are overlooked and smaller independent designers who have set up shop across smaller stores around malls are preferred due to their creativity and innovation. A general attitude on the street is that the creative youth in Hong Kong overlook malls because they are too conservative and the younger artists tend to serve their tastes better.

Class symbols such as logos are less important here and sometimes viewed as distasteful as personal style is preferred while haute couture is reserved for the older generations.

The streets don’t sleep simply because stores close late, because of their constant search of refinement, like Neighborhood markets the streets are a source of inspiration as well as a melting pot in which people interact and start some sort of revolution.

Oh and tour guides are a thing of the past, find an English speaking local or blogger, yea a cool kid of some sorts, and you will most definitely love your experience, as you are bound to meet more creatives along the way.

Hong Kong Experience Hong Kong Experience Hong Kong Experience Hong Kong Experience Hong Kong Experience Hong Kong Experience

Meet Joel, Boy Wonder- The Interview

posted on June 21st, 2013 by LISOF

siviwe-james-your-future-trend-analyst-anthropologistJoel Janse Van Vuuren seems like a shy face, patient soul and a simple guy. These may be the surface characteristics to this incredible individual but this young designer is far from being just a pretty face.

Durban was the backdrop for this young adventurer, who loved spending hours creating fantasy worlds by ‘making things’ as he puts it. He was a fan of Peter Pan and the fantasy of being a ‘boy’ forever, grew up with him. For Joel, this idea of being a child has stayed with him. It has inspired his design process in his almost naive exploration of different elements.

Joel, spent two years of his life travelling through Europe for his gap year. He explains how fortunate he was to have parents who always instilled the principle of self-exploration. While in London, he took a tour of the Highgate cemetery and he found a new source of organic inspiration from a forgotten place, each grave had a story.

He flicks through his laptop and shows me images of certain graves which had significant meaning for him. One grave to be specific was off a man who had passed away years earlier. The owners’ dog would lie on his tombstone as if the owner was still alive.

The dog eventually died and a monument was built for the dog, lying on the owners’ grave. The way nature has reclaimed this cemetery and yet the stories of the forgotten are still translatable, are the reasons why Joel finds inspiration from this peaceful space.

This man is a romantic in some way. His works carry elements of romanticism and are inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites, he says. “It’s the essence they tried to capture in their paintings.” His design philosophy is about his exploration of beauty, fashion and creativity in the 21st century and he delivers on this.

With the success from his first SAFW collection (S/S 2012), he pulled another stellar collection and wowed the crowds at this years SAFW S/S 2013.

As a young designer, his biggest challenge was the sourcing of fabrics. He uses silk as part of his design aesthetic and fabric of choice and explained how the lack of availability, of silk in South Africa was a costly factor for him. When you see the beautiful fabric, and the different type and textures that the fabric allows you to explore, you definitely see its worth.

I dared to ask the man if he saw himself as an innovator of style or fashion, or if he saw himself as an interpreter of the times {He sits there, and has a hard think} “I see myself as an interpreter of the times,” he says. “I feel my designs explore the spirit of the times in the fabric use and detail, also touching on stories filled with fantasy. I wouldn’t say I’m an innovator of style but in me being an interpreter, I do think my designs reinvent the styles of the times.”

Spending a few hours with this “quiet” yet playful soul inspired me. We laughed and joked during mis-recorded takes. ***He stretches his legs under the desk and relaxes his posture.

South African fashion is yet to see this young designer’s depth. He has ambition, desire and conquers spirit.

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