Fashion and filmmaking have long been close bedfellows. Whether it is their almost universal appeal, infinite versatility or the more intimate connections we have with both; there is no doubt that there is something special about colour and imagination in motion. However, like most of the arts, Africa is playing the catch up game, and the Fashion Institute at Zeitz MOCAA wants to speed this up. Spearheaded by trailblazer and Senior Fashion Curator, Erica De Greef, in partnership with fashion favourite, Senior Trend Researcher and Cultural Strategist, Nicola Cooper, Zeitz MOCAA has launched a public programme of homegrown fashion films that blend the best of both worlds – featuring major design names such as Rich Mnisi and Chu Suwannapha.

We sat down with Nicola for an exclusive pre-season peek into this pioneering project, which kicks off at the Museum this Friday, 29 September. With over 20 years’ experience in trends, fashion and identity, she joined De Greef in conceptualizing the programme, as well as carefully selecting the films and directors.

“Of course, it is the opportunity given by the Fashion Institute at Zeitz MOCAA, but it is really the designers, brands and film makers that are the key players. This project aims to build a platform which will showcase and facilitate thinking, and a critical engagement with topics relating to local fashion, historical traces and contemporary identity spaces,” she explains.

There’s no doubt that the engagement is needed to take South African fashion and film to its’ next level, which is not to say its all bad news. Earlier this year, gqom duo, FAKA, hung out in the front row at the Spring Summer ’19 Versace show at Donnatella Versace’s personal invitation, and their hit songs provided its soundtrack. More recently, radio and TV queen Thando Thabethe hit the runway for the Moschino Milan Fashion Week show. Now it is time for the visual storytellers to take their place– as long standing custodians of Africa’s fashion story.

“We hope to build not only an appreciation for the fashion film genre in Africa through these events, but to develop the discourse and strengthen the capacity to critique, argue, understand and defend the creativity and conceptual complexity of both fashion and film makers,” explains Nicola, whose work actively strives to put ‘Africa First’.

Asked about her hopes for the project, Nicola had this to say:

“I think we are just opening the door to this world with incredibly brave and forward thinking designers, brands and filmmakers leading us. I believe that with support from both local and global audiences, more designers will explore and offer unique and groundbreaking issues. For too long, the conversations surrounding African fashion often excluded the most important voice; an African voice; and film is one of the ways this can be changed and reclaimed.”

The first event of the season includes films from Tatjana Mereilles, Rich Mnisi, SOPOPULAR and Jeana Theron with The Joburg Ballet; followed by a panel discussion.

For more information about Fashion Films – Season 1, or to get your hands on tickets for the upcoming events, visit their Eventbrite page or follow them on Facebook.