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Friday, January 23, 2009


Pictured: Chantel Wehmeyer and Gary Wild

Durban jewellery design duo to feature in SA fashion week

A Durban jewellery design duo has been selected to inject some sexy cyber-punk chic into one of the country’s top fashion shows, taking place this week.

The Audi Johannesburg Fashion Week, from January 21 to 24 at the Sandton Convention Centre, brings together some of the hottest young names in the South African rag trade, and Durban’s Chantel Wehmeyer and Gary Wild have been commissioned by avant-garde designer Abigail Keats, to help make her futuristic runway creations fly.

The show attracts the cream of the country’s design talent, celebs, fashion buyers, and style-spotters.

The jewellers, who go by the name Wild by Design, have made more than 50 pieces for Keats. These combine materials more often associated with the factory shop-floor, such as rubber and resin, with sterling silver. Also in the mix are natural materials such as indigenous hardwoods and buck-horn.

Wild, 42, described their work as “urban-inspired and edgy”, but it was to the farm that he went for some of the more special materials needed for the job. “I got the wood from a mate’s farm in the Eastern Cape. My boet and I pruned some wild olive branches. I also sourced some Natal mahogany and African ebony.”

Meanwhile, Wehmeyer, 31, checked out industrial supply stores for raw materials and scoured scrap-yards for inspiration.

Their collaboration with Keats came about after Wehmeyer, 31, a Jewellery Design and Manufacture honours student at the Durban University of Technology, spotted Keats’ work in a national fashion magazine last year and was blown away by her daring style.

Wehmeyer fired off an enthusiastic e-mail to Keats in August praising the fashionista’s “earthy futurism”, and suggesting they might collaborate.

The months passed by and Wehmeyer thought nothing more of it, until in December she got an e-mail and then a phone call.

Keats, a graduate of the London International School of Fashion, wanted jewellery, and lots of it, in “onyx and dark, black wood” to go with her collection of 15 outfits for the fashion week.

The Wild by Design team have obliged with sexy cyber-punk pieces that wouldn’t look out of place on the necks and fingers of “Matrix” stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

“This is the African urban chic for a brave new world; there’s not a bead in sight,” says Wild. “I’m absolutely stoked to be working with Abigail. I have max respect for her work,” he said.

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