Seated next to the catwalk, and watching the girls in black dresses remove the black sheets covering the runway, we waited for the usual fashion show ritual – dimming of lights and music starting to play through the speakers to let people know the show is about to start. To our surprise, three men in white t-shirts with rolled sleeves walked across the runway to take their positions with drums, a mic and an electric guitar set up on the side. From the get go everyone at the show knew there was going to be an electric energy that would flow through the room. The drummer tapped his drumsticks together and we were ready to rock and roll.
As the vibrations from the live music met our feet, the first model walked out with badass, dark cherry lips and messy hair while wearing black jeans and a long, tan coat. Vintage Zionist hit us in the face with their AW18 collection. Leopard print, leather jackets, skinny jeans and torn white t-shirts have never looked this good. Their fitted jackets with extra long sleeves swirled the guitar riffs in the air as each model marched with a determined stride in Doc Martins. Our eyes were continuously teased by garments hanging off shoulders, with pops of colour that were unusual for the Vintage Zionist brand.
We were only given a moment to catch our breath before the screen behind the runway came to life again. Mimicking the fuzzy texture that appears on a TV screen when there is no signal, grey and black glitches jumped across the screen in between “AFROPUNK” and the Vintage Zionist logo. With the lights dimming once again, we were transported into an AFROPUNK-inspired fashion dream. Hardcore punk music guided the models as we were introduced to the magic that can be made with denim and recycled leather. Garments were accessorized with earrings and tongue rings, making an immediate connection to the imagined wearer of the clothing.
Oscar Ncube, one half of Vintage Zionist, explained that the AFROPUNK collection could be viewed as a history lesson. The original punks – the tribesmen and women from Africa – were referenced through images of people with large lip rings and patterned scarification placed on t-shirts. The words ‘stay punk’ emphasized how the punk aesthetic was derived from men and women from the continent. Continuing with our history lesson, the collection paid homage to the likes of Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix and Little Richard, the black icons who curated the rock and roll sound. This awareness of black cultural influence carried through the entire show.
Embracing DIY culture in fashion, Jimi Hendrix song lyrics were written all over items of clothing as a reflection on the importance of self-expression. “AFROPUNK” and other words looked as if they were tagged across garments, bringing to mind the influence of graffiti and making art accessible. Ripped black denim was seen alongside fish net dungaree dresses accented with silver studs while Leather tassels danced around the models’ backs.
Music, fashion, art. The potency of this combination can only result in the ultimate rock ‘n roll uniform compounded by the aesthetic similarities between AFROPUNK and Vintage Zionist.