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Jacques LaGrange marks 30 years in fashion

Jacques ‘King of Couture’ LaGrange has dressed some of the country’s most famous faces and personalities. This year marks a huge milestone as the designer celebrates three successful decades in fashion. He chats to Glamour about longevity and marking the occasion.

Glamour: Tell us about your recent showcase at South African Menswear Week (SAMW) – AW22?

Jacques LaGrange: My collection at SAMW under its womenswear designer day was a tongue-in-cheek message to say no to fast fashion and to be more consumer conscious of what and how we buy local and international fashion items. The statement ‘fuck fashionwear couture’ is a message to invest in quality not quantity. We have to be smarter when it comes to buying clothing, know what we’re buying and be part of a snowball effect to save the environment for future generations.

G: What was your creative process behind your showcase?

JL: It started with the colour hotpink that I used last year on singer-songwriter Zolani Mahola for the Desmond Tutu Foundation Art For the Arch charity auction. I wanted to make a bold statement of fun and upliftment after two somber years.

Hot pink is a feel-good, happy colour and I sourced the fabrics from various places, had the t-shirts embroidered and brought in beading elements by my intern, Brandon Buys from FEDISA Fashion School. And in true Jacques LaGrange style, I had to be a little over the top! The styling included hot-pink feather eyelashes and handmade Coast and Koi couture shoes. Opening and closing my show with dramatic music was my friend and top male model Johannes Odendaal from Pulse Model Management. That was a twist to bring in the Menswear Week angle, show clothing everyone can wear and champion inclusivity.

G: As the world of fashion slowly recovers from this pandemic and live shows are returning, is there anything the industry should do differently?

JL: This is the time to focus and invest in your top, high-end clients and being specific with marketing for potential first-time buyers and new clients is crucial. Don’t waste time, money and effort on unnecessary things and don’t follow what everyone else is doing.

Image: Simon Deiner

Focus on environmentally-friendly fabrics, new techniques and be fashion-and money-smart. Be sustainable, and educate your employees about the environment. Education is important for the bright fashion stars of the future.

G: This year marks three decades in fashion for Jacques LaGrange Couture. What have been some of your career highlights, and what lessons have contributed to your longevity and success?

JL: I remember, in an article about Jacques LaGrange Couture when I celebrated my 10th year in the fashion industry a journalist wrote:

‘In a short period, Jacques LaGrange has accomplished more than most designers have in a lifetime’. With that in mind, I’ve had many highlights in my 30-year career. The fashion celebrities I’ve met, the media who’ve become friends, clients who’ve become family. Then there’s showcasing my couture around the world, in Moscow, New York, Mozambique and Amsterdam. Attending New York and Paris Fashion Week. Private parties in France, Switzerland, Germany and Prague. The charities I’ve been involved with.

I’ve gone from a small-town boy with a big dream to an international household name for the world’s wealthiest and most beautiful women, such as Miss World Anneline Kriel (1974) and Rolene Strauss (2014), Miss Universe Margaret Hardener, Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss and Cindy Nell, Actresses Terry Pheto, Nomzamo Mbatha, Gerry Hall and Thembe Seete, to name but a few.

Image: Simon Deiner

I’ve learnt to be myself, love myself, believe in myself and never give up. I’ve worked hard to under-promise and over-deliver, and always show up on time – jump in and swim. You don’t have to win every race, as long as you take part and, whilst doing that, have fun! Make memories whilst having fun creating beautiful clothes. But always stay true to yourself and trust your gut!

G: Three words you’d pass on to an aspiring fashion student before they begin their career?

JL: Vision, honesty and determination.

G: Some fashion trends, local and international, you consider noteworthy?

JL: Hot pink is going to pop this winter straight into summer. As part of the dopamine trend, this style has taken over every article on fashion.

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