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SA Designer Joel talks fashion with The Socialite

Joel Janse van Vuuren is making waves in the fashion industry with this eye for style and striking creations. The Socialite paid the Durban-based designer  a visit to find out more…

How and why did you become involved in fashion design?

After matriculating in 2002, I decided to travel and I took two years off from studying and went to London, Paris, Rome and Monaco. The majority of my trip was spent in London, where I stayed for just over a year.  While I was there, I did numerous odd jobs but the one that stuck with me was my experience working for Topshop.  Although I was just a sales assistant, I realised I really enjoyed working with fashion and I was interested in developing this passion.  I returned in 2005 where I began studying fashion design in Durban.

What influences your designs?

I really like to think that there are numerous influences to my design style, but one of my core influences is the exploration of my perception of beauty.  This can be anything, not necessarily related to fashion. I enjoy the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, the photography of Pieter Hugo and have a fascination with nature.  I am also influenced silhouettes and structures creating interesting forms.

Who would you nominate as the hottest designer worldwide right now and why?

Worldwide, wow, there’s a lot. At the moment, a person who really stands out for me even though she is not a designer, is Lady Gaga. I believe she is a real fashion icon. I find everything she is doing with her wardrobe styling, her performances and her music videos to be really interesting.  Her  incorporation of young designers work, and over-the-top styling really sets her apart from other performing artists. I think her songs are okay, but coupled with her wardrobe, it makes her an interesting person to watch and follow, fashion wise.

Do you have a mantra or life philosophy?

While I was in Paris two weeks ago, I came across a girl who had a tattoo on her wrist. The tattoo was a text stating ‘so it goes’. I can’t remember where she said it was from, but I feel like that sums up everything in life.  That, and one of my own tattoos, that says ‘to die will be an awfully big adventure’ from Peter Pan. Both really remind me of wanting to live fully and to make sure it’s an adventure while doing so.

Your latest fashion splurge?

It has to be while shopping in Paris, that was fun.

Your latest project?

Currently, I am working on completing a Professional Practice course at the KZNSA, which is a three month course culminating in an exhibition at the KZNSA, where I will be showcasing my new collection.

Photography: Craig Scott

Make Up: Tammy Sturrock

Models: 1946

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