WHEN they weren’t rubbing shoulders with the likes of the dearly departed David Bowie and Miriam Makeba, the founders of Klûk CGDT were working arduously to set a new benchmark in fashion design across the African continent and beyond. The enduring, masterly composition of their work over the years has put them among Africa’s fashion top brass.
If you think of some of the most renowned fashion brands in the world, you will find that they were often the illustrious products of two complementary partners — Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana. These brands are the dual aesthetic emanating from the marriage of individual creative characteristics of each partner in a collaboration.
A similar duality is sensed in the charm of the Klûk CGDT brand. “We are known for our sharp tailoring as much as our romantic feminine side,” say Malcolm Klûk and Christiaan du Toit, the brand’s founders.
Klûk and du Toit were early members of SA’s burgeoning fashion industry. Before they met, each designer had begun their own journey towards fashion fame.
After completing his education at the prominent Central Saint Martin’s College in London, Klûk went on to an apprenticeship under the extraordinarily talented John Galliano.
Du Toit graduated from the Cape Technikon’s fashion school, where he was proclaimed Most Promising Designer in 2001.
Both men have since proven to be far more than promising, adding to their individual accolades joint achievements from within the country and abroad. The duo met at a fashion show in 2001. Klûk’s label CGDT was a finalist in a design competition and du Toit was a featured designer.
Their collaboration — Klûk CGDT — was officially established in 2003.
Since then, the brand has achieved significant milestones that include showcasing their collections all over the world, earning them the African Fashion International African Designer of the Year award three times in a row, twice at shows in Nigeria and once in SA.
African Fashion International is a company established by businesswoman Precious Motsepe to promote African fashion brands.
“Christiaan is very detail-focused and concentrates on the finishing and finished product and Malcolm is more about the creative direction.
“We love that you have asked about our current muse because there are so many women that we love and (who) inspire us,” they say.
“Elizabeth Taylor comes to mind immediately, as do Cate Blanchett, Grace Jones and Tilda Swinton. We love all of the women we dress and it would be bad manners to single anyone out.”
However, they say there is “a certain redhead that has always been a muse for her grace and style and a certain radio personality and comedienne with a large personality that inspires us”.
The brand creates separate prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear), haute couture and bridal lines. Their latest ready-to-wear collection, Guilty Pleasures, is powerfully sophisticated and modern, carried through in long silhouettes, sheer fabrics and elegant textures. The collection was inspired by the idea of “indulging in a fantasy of design, quality, (and) another world. One of the key elements in this collection was questioning what is appropriate for modern evening or cocktail wear.”
Designing for each line must require a certain level of care to avoid falling into a cycle of repetition.
“We play with fabrics and ideas and designs. We love history and art and travel and, usually, one or all sparks an idea for a collection. We like to encompass all the senses, so music and food and colour and texture, all add something to that range.”
“Time is the biggest hurdle,” they admit. “We are both obsessive compulsive and do not like to delegate. We like being involved in everything. The decision for 2016 is about focus, about more exclusivity, about choosing who and what we will work with.”