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In early September this year, the grim reality of being a woman in this country was amplified by the death of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old university student, at the hands of a postal worker. Her fate elicited thousands of stories of abuse and victimisation from women who were tired of being victimised and burdened.
Gavin Rajah’s latest collection, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, is a celebration of women’s strength, while acknowledging the delicate nature of life.
“We really wanted to show the fragility of human life; to show the place women find themselves in – delicate, vulnerable and feeling caged,” he explains.
“The collection was inspired by women who’ve been victims of abuse. Flowers and floral prints are huge for the forthcoming season, so I felt that it was apt to draw reference from that, but flowers are also great representations of femininity,” Rajah explains.
While fashion may seem to be far removed from socio-economic challenges, Rajah – who’s also a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador – knows the importance of using a personal platform to amplify topical issues.
“If you have visibility and you have a craft that can communicate or profile issues or causes, then you must use it. I think we have to be responsible and accountable citizens. Creatives should use their talent to foster social transformation,” he says.
For this collection, he collaborated with creative and floral décor expert Alwijn Burger of Blomboy fame.
“Our collaboration was a natural progression because we’re always looking to do interesting things together. We decided that this was an important message for us throw our weight behind,” he says.
As the country continues to grapple with its gender-based violence epidemic, it’s encouraging to see allies from all sectors of society joining the fight to ensure a safe and equitable society for all its citizens.