Mercedes Benz Sandton was the setting for the launch of the all-new, locally designed Mercedes Benz C Class this past weekend. The brief was to celebrate the creative excellence that the car embodies, with a focus on harnessing the creativity that oozes from our continent. The slogan “Eyethu” which is Nguni for “it is ours” claims this.
Mercedes Benz has long been associated with luxury and sophisticated design. It is also known for its collaborative ethos that highlights creative art and fashion. From Mercedes Benz Fashion Week to this launch event, the aim is to put African fashion, art, style and design on a pedestal.
ASA, as the media partner for this glamorous launch, advocates for African luxurious fashion with a creative and bold expression. The magazine brand is also keen on building key partnerships that empower creativity and impactful conversations. The two brands make perfect bedfellows.
Putting this partnership into context, ASA founder Reynold Agge says, “Fashion is integral to everything that is true right now – from politics to sport. It can also be used to facilitate pertinent social dialogue like what we did with the ASA / South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) campaign that highlighted mental health. As players in the fashion industry, we believe collaboration is key to all creative endeavors. And with our partnership with Mercedes Benz, we want to show the world how far you can go in breaking creative molds.”
The all-new Mercedes Benz in opalite, white, high-tech silver and spectral blue, is a picture of assured elegance, boasting sleek interior and tech design. It also reflects the culmination of art, passion and history, inherent in South Africa’s emerging creative talent.
Working with the creative energies of art, music, dance, fashion, poetry and film, the collaborative creative showcase and launch were designed to give guests a behind-the-scenes experience of the theatre that artists cultivate when given the opportunity.
In attendance were musicians from Zakes Bantwini to Lady Du; and A-listers which included Miss SA 2007 Tansey Coetzee, model and fashion show producer, Andiswa Manxiwa, Boity, singer-songwriters Donald and Cici, Miss South Africa 2010, Bokang Montjane-Tshabalala, soccer star, Simphiwe Tshabalala, radio host, Kgomotso Seboko, influencer, Pamela Mtanga, and the trending Mr Smeg.
Brand partners of the event included the founder of popular sneaker label, Bathu, Theo Baloyi, Swatch, fashion houses, IMPRINT ZA by Mzukisi Mbane and CLARIS by Gerrit Pienaar as well as artist Samurai Farai who created the event logo and the artwork that accompanies the release of the new Mercedes Benz C Class. On the night, the artist created a marvel when he spray-painted the vehicle for all the guests to see. And all guests were welcomed with a scarf that boasted a Samurai Farai print.
Read about the ASA / Samurai Farai / SADAG campaign here.
The dress code was “dress to impress” inspired by the continent to reflect creativity. This was interpreted in ways that highlighted luxury and ease and celebrated Africa’s pride and vibrancy in colour, print and style. The emphasis on supporting local designers shone through as did the styling that showed off the harmony of local and international fashion.
Reynold Agge embodied luxurious comfort with his all-black Tidy Tucs tailored suit, a netted vest matched with Maison Mergiela Tabi split-toe Chelsea Boots and high-end jewellery. Think the style essence of Maxwell and Lenny Kravitz merging the classic and the unconventional into one.
African print that from the Maxhosa Africa signature to stylistic as well as the nuanced variations of Fabrosanz and IMPRINT ZA reigned.
Boity kept it simple with a Maxhosa skirt, paired with an edgy Off-White jean jacket paying tribute to the recently deceased international designer Virgil Abloh. “The point was to mix it up, but represent the black excellence of Maxhosa and Virgil Abloh,” she said.
Showcasing and plugging emerging local designers was also on-trend. Cici represented Reggiestar in her white, sassy gown. Theo Baloyi in his teal coloured suit donned the up-and-coming Soweto-based fashion brand, Inspired Apparel.
“I like expressing myself with colour and that is also what our brand is known for. We are a rainbow nation, we are diversified and there are many ways of expressing yourself. I felt happy today and this colour expresses that,” Theo said.
His pop of colour was also captured in the customized Bathu sneakers that were on display and worn by the event organizers. The military tones in the tailoring of Theo’s suit spoke to a common military theme that ran through the menswear of some of the celebrities on the night. TV personality Sipho “Psypho” Ngwenya wore military and uniform-inspired wear from Palse Africa by established Joburg designer, Paledi Segapo.
Highlights of the evening included the unveiling of the cars in a show headed by models Tansey Coetzee and Andiswa Manxiwa. The choice to use models with such enviable longevity was a clever and stylish metaphor for the durability of Mercedes Benz, which celebrates 40 years in 2022.
Fashion-wise, the IMPRINT ZA showcase, with a number of celebrities models wearing the label, stole the show. With striking prints, lively colour and Afro-Asian styling influences, IMPRINT ZA is African storytelling in apparel. Known for working with primary colours and a monochromatic hue, this time the label has extended on its colour palette with bright greens, blues and oranges.
“I always say a brand is a storytelling tool. It’s not just about the prints which are bright and visually exciting. When you look into it, within the print itself you see a mother and child. And that’s my story. That’s where fashion comes from for me. My mother is passionate and she inspired me to push for what I believe in. This is especially important within the township context where we are not encouraged to work in the creative fields. My mom taught me how to sew and pushed me to soar,” says Mzukisi.
Hailing from Khayelitsha in Cape Town, Mzukisi and his IMPRINT ZA label came up through the Design Indaba platform in 2015 and were introduced to the world through the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in 2016.
And that is what Mercedes Benz has come to be known for: The elevation of art and style, long-lasting relationships and inspired sophisticated design.
Words | Kgomotso Moncho-Maripane Kgomotso Moncho-Maripane
Editor | Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin
Images | Flashed by Sanele @flashedbysanele