BY BILLY SUTER
AWARD-WINNING South African fashion designer and darling to the stars, Gert-Johan Coetzee, has been named as the mentor to aspiring designers for Project Runaway SA, which will run on DStv’s Mzansi Magic (channel 161) from July.
Project Runway SA, like the hit American show which has Tim Gunn as mentor to contestants, focuses on making clothes and real stars from real fashion talent. A call for contestants was sent out earlier this year and entries closed on April 2.
Twelve passionate, aspiring fashion designers will live together for six weeks. They will compete in weekly challenges that stretch their creativity, resilience, design and practical skills.
The contestants will be judged by a panel of top fashion personalities who will decide who stays in the competition and who is out until only three remain. These three finalists will then create their own collection for a prestigious fashion event, but only one fashion designer will make the cut and take the prize to showcase at Paris Fashion Week 2019. Furthermore, the winner’s designs will be showcased in Edgars stores for three months.
“Designers will be challenged to create garments restricted by time, materials, and theme, with designs judged by a panel. There will be drama, there will be challenges, and there will be bold pops of local flair. Make no mistake: the expectations are high. And the possibilities: endless,” says a spokesman for the show.
“Mzansi Magic and Ndalo Pictures in association with (Headline Sponsor) 4th STREET Wines and their production partners Rapid Blue are proud to announce that the mentor for Project Runway SA will be South Africa’s beloved, darling-to-the-stars, award-winning fashion designer Gert-Johan Coetzee,” the spokesman added.
The mentor will be playing a substantial role in Project Runway SA as the show’s key to unlocking greater depths of creativity within each contestant, as they compete for their big break into the fashion industry.
“Amidst the inevitable drama and panic that comes with intense challenges, Coetzee will be the calm eye of the storm for the contestants, keeping them on deadline, guiding them on their designs and fabric choices, steering them towards the finishing line, greatness and the ultimate expression of their own voices,” the spokesman said.
“I am utterly thrilled and honoured to be part of South Africa’s first version of Project Runway. This means I will be at the forefront, helping to nurture the incredible talent we have in this country,” says Coetzee, who adds that fashion has always been his life.
He was already in sewing classes by the age of six, by the age of eight he was already creating dresses, and by 19 he was winning awards (SA’s Most Promising Young Designer in 2006). He was just 23 when he launched his own label at SA Fashion Week in 2010.
Today his exquisite couture creations are worn by A- list celebrities on red carpets around the world. Coetzee also designs a chic ready-to-wear range, which is carried in selected boutiques and his online store.
Ndalo Pictures founder and CEO Khanyi Dhlomo says: “Mentorship is not only at the very heart of Project Runway, but at the heart of Ndalo Pictures too, so it was of utmost importance that we found the perfect mentor with all the right nuances.”
She adds: ‘There’s such an alluring sincerity about Gert. He’s engaging, inspiring, passionate, boldly creative and wise beyond his years. He’s the perfect fit.’”
Mentorship is not new to Coetzee. The flourishing designer launched his own bursary programme, which has already been running for seven years. The Gert-Johan Coetzee Bursary Programme covers students for three years and includes personal mentorships by Coetzee himself, as well as internships at his studio.
“Mentorships are invaluable,” says Coetzee. “The design schools may give you the knowledge and the skills, but the personal attention that comes with internships and Project Runway SA givesthe polish. And that’s when the true stars shine.”