“My favourite moments” By designer Gert-johan Coetzee
Since launching his eponymous label in 2010, Gert-johan Coetzee has been making exquisite creations for A-list celebs around the world, collaborated with the world’s top brands and become the mentor for SA’S Project Runway. Here, the award-winning designe
1 Mentoring on Project Runway SA
Fulfilling the role of mentor on Project Runway SA has been a dream of mine since the launch of the US show in 2004.
I know it’ll not only be an entertaining show, but will also uplift the SA fashion industry as a whole by introducing SA designers to the broader public, and encouraging the viewers to recognise what we have here and support local design.
I’m on the lookout for a winner who has passion, drive and talent, and I hope that by mentoring each contestant through the season, these traits will be brought out in them.
2 The power of Thuli Madonsela
The Victory Dress, as we named it, was truly one of the most recognisable gowns we’ve ever designed – we even have the photo framed, as it was such an honour to dress our esteemed former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, for her final SONA in 2016.
Earlier that week, the Constitutional Court upheld the legitimacy of Thuli’s Nkandla report, and she really exuded that spirit of victory on the red carpet that day. It was this spirit that inspired the sun-yellow colour we chose; it represents the hope that she gave the whole country.
3 My wedding
My wedding day in 2014 was the most special day in my life; an intimate gathering of my and Vicky’s closest friends and family – the 30 people in this photo. We had a two-day celebration at a nature reserve, which allowed us to spend time with the people closest to us. We never wanted a big, stressful and traditional wedding, so the ceremony only took 15 minutes, and there were no speeches – all very personal and homely.
On the second evening, we had a Moroccan-themed night on a hilltop with a dance floor, huge fires and Moroccan tents.
4 Partnering with real luxury
In 2015, I partnered with Ferrari to launch our autumn/ winter 2016 collection. I believe that fashion and the auto industry are natural partners, as both industries demand luxury and excellence in design.
Our showcase took place at the Scuderia Ferrari SHOWROOM in Joburg, and it was an amazing spectacle to see couture gowns alongside these gorgeous cars, and how seamlessly they worked together.
5 Collaborating with a global icon
Our newest range (worn by Nomzamo Mbatha, right) is in celebration of Mcdonald’s Big Mac turning 50, and to support the Ronald Mcdonald House Charity (RMHC). The golden arches are an iconic pop culture symbol, and it’s been such a pleasure to have such powerful iconography to play with.
The collection also introduced our new brand extension, Gert, aimed at a younger market who love street fashion. I’m super proud that we currently have the only Mcdonald’s-approved clothing line in the world. Plus, all proceeds go to RMHC, which provides care for the families of children receiving treatment in hospitals.
6 Kelly Rowland stepping out in GJC
I was invited to meet Kelly at a friend’s party while she was visiting SA, and had given her a dress as a gift. She was lovely and warm, and loved the dress – which was heavy, as it was made from fully-beaded fabric.
There is never a guarantee that a celeb will wear your designs, but she not only wore it at a Hollywood event, she also tagged me on Instagram and introduced the GJC brand to an international audience.
7 Kourtney Kardashian wearing GJC
When Kourtney stepped out in a GJC dress at the 2011 People’s Choice Awards, a whole new chapter started in my career.
It was a complete surprise, because we delivered it to Kim as a gift when she came to SA. Insider info revealed that Kourtney saw the dress when Kim was unpacking at home, fell in love with it and claimed it for the awards.
8 My bursary programme
Helping young people reach their full potential is one of my main goals in life. Eight years ago, we launched our first bursary for one young talent to study fashion design at the North West School of Design, and the programme has been growing ever since.
I offer personal mentorship to each of the Gert-johan Coetzee Bursary students throughout their years of study, and they intern at my studio during holidays to get to know the business and to learn all they need to know that will enable them to build their own careers as designers.
9 The magic of weddings
Minnie Dlamini is a dear friend, and such an authentic person. When she got engaged, I immediately offered to create a dress for her. She wanted to look and feel like a princess on her special day, and we worked together to make that happen.
Out of our sessions, we created probably the most publicised wedding dress in SA, with a big reveal on her TV special Becoming Mrs Jones. It was made out of more than 150m of tulle, adorned with custom silk detail, 3D-printed lilies and hand-beaded with Swarovski crystals.