Over the past week, Egypt’s fashion aficionados and socialites were either shopping at Carl Kapp’s trunk show or talking about it; it was the first time the Australia-based South African has brought his designs to Cairo.
Kapp launched his self named label in 2006 and before long, cultivated a cult following that includes Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett.
The two Hollywood royalties wear his jewel toned dresses that evoke a sense effortlessness usually associated with his designs.
Focusing on designing easy to wear accessories, casual wear, as well as evening and cocktail dresses, Kapp’s designs have a firm footing in precise technical pattern cutting and construction.
But they are also examples of artistic deconstruction.
“Once you know the rules [of technique] you know how to break them, said Kapp, who after graduating from Natal Technikon in Durban in 1990, was apprenticed to a tailor.
His dresses and blouses are made from a variety of materials, but only the finest. French, Italian and Japanese lace and silks, in addition to fine jerseys and cottons make up his collection.
He readily admits his “obsession with fine fabrics, and cites the lack of good fabrics in South Africa as a primary reason for having moved to Australia to pursue his aspirations.
Fabrics provide him with initial inspiration.
“It starts with the fabrics, and it’s a very organic process, nothing’s really planned . it’s a never ending journey. You can really feel a material that’s tactile. There’s nothing worse than holding up a dress and feeling material like cardboard.
From choosing fabrics to physically draping them by hand on mannequins, Kapp’s work reflects his very affable and laid back spirit which seeps over into his creations.
Entitled “Birds of Paradise, this collection delivers all the imaginative connotations associated with this classification.
Oranges, pinks, fuscias, greens, blues, and yellows are the dominant color themes and are reflective of what Kapp defines as being the dominant attitude of color trends in Australia, specifically Sydney.
Such proximity to the sea inspires bold color choices. Ironically enough, Egyptian women too love intensity of color, and have been snapping up Kapp’s pieces much to his surprised pleasure.
His design concept is so forgiving to the bittersweet experience of wearing a cocktail or evening gown. Rather than restricting a woman’s movement and sense of ease, Kapp’s dresses are cut to accentuate the alluring curves of a woman’s waist, and make wearing such formal wear pleasurable.
“It’s all about the female body and what [the dress] does, says Kapp.
The dresses are designed to be loose and manipulated as one pleases, as are his blouses.
“It’s all quite classic, but when you look closely there’s a little twist and I think that’s the magic of it – that surprising little detail that you don’t really expect.
A simple blouse can be belted, worn as is or tied up discreetly by way of subtly positioned button holes to form soft drapes. Discreet corset boning for shape under evening wear and other such intimate considerations reveals a designer who thoroughly understands the entire challenge of wearing complicated eveningwear.
Coming in various lengths, Kapp’s dresses have hems that hit at various lengths of a woman’s leg, mostly at knee length. “Short skin-tight dresses on this season’s runways were a little bit too literal, they needed to be modernized, I thought.
Thus, Kapp designed dresses that were modern and fresh in a way that haven’t been seen before. Slightly loose, sometimes modest and often times down right demure; Kapp fuses ladylike elegance with a less-is-more sexiness revealing just enough collar bone here or a little bit of leg there.
He toys with asymmetrical detailing and employs visual tricks. Arms poke out from sleeves that aren’t clearly defined or separated from the rest of the body on the designer’s signature Waterfall dress.
On the long run
It is this very item that is in Kidman and Blanchett’s wardrobes, and has been popular since the beginning of the label’s launch. In purple or blue satin, the Waterfall dress evokes a Grecian goddess that has stepped into a contemporary urban setting. So modern in its execution yet classic in its essence, the Waterfall dress embodies Kapp’s attitude towards fashion.
“I hate the idea of people buying a dress and wearing it once, and thus it seems natural the design of the Waterfall dress has an essence of longevity. The same concept of elegance and longevity is a recurring motif throughout his various collections.
There is a definite evolution of design in Kapp’s work but it is all tied up within the key elements of a clean modern silhouette and femininity.
It is his work with digital printing, however, that will surely garner Kapp even more fashion devotees. Digital printing on fabric is quite revolutionary; the high costs of the dyes have limited its use by designers or brands as of yet.
“3D printing has completely changed the way people look at prints. I was always bored by the flatness of prints but now there’s nothing that you can’t do with 3D.
Silk screen printing results in a flatness of surfaces and lack of shading within the print. Kapp’s use of 3D printing has resulted in bold prints on flowing silk dresses that are striking in their intensity of color and appearance. The Twilight dress highlights Kapp’s ability to balance such a bold print on a dramatic dress.
“Fashion is not necessarily theater; it is still clothes for real people and to me that’s really important.
Kapp is earning quite a name for himself in Australia, having recently won the Chambord Shine Award for upcoming Australian designers. With a menswear collection in the making, bridal wear that is confronting one’s notions of exaggerated bridal wear, and aspirations of expanding the brand, Kapp has high fan expectations to live up to.
Ikan 3 Gallery: 157 26th of July St., 3rd Floor, Zamalek.Tel: 2736-2183Trunk show extended to Sunday 29th and Monday 30th of March 12-8 pm.