On 18 August 2011 Volvo Car South Africa hosted the much-anticipated Volvo Fashion Finale, where three of South Africa’s most successful and prominent fashion designers revealed their innovative and stylish efforts at bringing Volvo and fashion together in an inspiring and fresh way.
The big reveal was met with awe and appreciation by a star-studded crowd of over 270 people at Urban Tree, one of Sandton’s premier event venues.
The Volvo and Fashion campaign, nicknamed Volvo Possible, was the perfect illustration of Volvo’s new corporate, product and brand strategy – Designed Around You. Volvo offers a contemporary luxury experience that’s created around people with strength in every sense. We are the most human-centric car brand in the motor industry and this campaign was an excellent, and glamorous, way of illustrating this principle.
With the eyes of the some of the country’s most popular celebs, fashion editors, fashion icons as well as a few motoring enthusiasts, upon them; Gert-Johan Coetzee (Melville), David Tlale (Rosebank) and Nkhensani Nkosi (Sandton) exceeded all expectations when they revealed their superbly designed and crafted interior, exterior, consumer and couture accessories for their respective Volvo models – the sporty and playful C30, the sleek and sexy S60 and the safe and luxurious XC60.
The unique blend of motoring and fashion of the Volvo Fashion Finale was part of the Volvo Car SA Fashion Campaign, an initiative aimed at showcasing Volvo’s commitment to the people who drive their vehicles. Driven by Volvo’s “Designed Around You” principle and inspired by their respective Volvos, the three designers spent 9 months creating a range of designs including jaw-dropping couture items, Volvo inspired accessories, as well as funky exterior skins and matching interiors for each of their stylish vehicles.
The couture items of the three designers, which were inspired by the designers stylish, safe and luxurious Volvo’s, stole the show. Gert-Johan Coetzee’s dress made out of water, David Tlale’s dress that epitomizes style, and Nkhensani’s safety-belt dress were all rewarded with cheers from the crowd, as were their three cars that had been augmented by the designers with exterior and interior accents.
According to Gert-Johan Coetzee, “drawing from the clean curves of the Volvo C30 I decided to incorporate water into my couture item. Water not only symbolizes life, but flowing water represents abundance in life.
However, water also has the power of destruction and the contrast of this kind of power with the safely of my C30 allowed my creative processes to flow”.
The exterior design of the car sees it turn into leopard print and silver moving into pink, “making it look like the speed of the Volvo is ripping the paint off. The car is eye-catching and inspiring, which is what Gert-Johan Coetzee is all about”.
Gert-Johan said that “because the outside design of the car is so loud, I really wanted to just tone it down but still bring elements of the exterior design into the interior of the car”. As such, leopard print carpets, embroidered houndstooth seats and a covered steering wheel give his C30 a very luxurious feel.
David Tlale is well known for his stylish and luxurious creations, and he has certainly lived up to his reputation with the designs that he has produced during the Volvo Fashion campaign. According to Tlale, when designing his couture dress and Volvo accessories he was “inspired by the comfort and elegance of my S60, and I hope that this luxury has translated into my designs.
The David Tlale brand focuses on quality at all costs, as we specialise in the fine detail and elegance that couture designs command”. The exterior of his S60 was “inspired by my couture dress – drapes, fullness and motifs deriving from the David Tlale logo”. Tlale said that “if you think it’s cool outside, check out the interior of the car”, which features leather carpets and embossed seats inspired by a 60’s influence as “fashion is as much about looking back as it is looking forward”.
Volvo has correctly earned a reputation as manufacturing one of the safest vehicles in the world, and Nkhensani Nkosi’s couture item, a spectacular dress made entirely of safety belts, paid homage to this. In true Nkhensani style, she managed to turn metres upon metres of tough safety fabric into an eye-catching and feminine design.
Talking about the exterior of her XC60, Nkhensani said that “we wanted to give it a Stoned Cherrie feel, so we used elements of the aesthetic usually associated with the brand”. As such, Stoned Cherrie logos, daisies and an eye-catching shade of burnt orange adorned her Volvo.
For the interior of her car, Nkhensani and her team made use of Stoned Cherrie headrests, daisies embroidered on the seats, and a customized embroidered steering wheel to achieve her desired look and feel.
She said that “we have had so much fun customizing this car, and I don’t think there is anything that I would have done differently. Every creative process has got its ups and downs and challenges, but that is part of the process. When you pour your heart and soul into something, you are always going to be satisfied with the result”.
Gert-Johan Coetzee’s comment that “everything came together so well” could not have been more accurate, with his range of funky, innovative and eye-catching designs wowing the crowd and adding to the amazing impression made by his couture item and Volvo C30 designs.
According to Gert-Johan, “this challenge allowed me to push the boundaries of design. When I first got into my Volvo C30 my first thoughts were of the power, safety and design aesthetics of the car”. Some of his accessories included a black and white houndstooth-themed laptop bag, tray, Volvo-inspired USB flashdrive and mouse.
These items were aimed at “creating a fashion forward, unique corporate identity than conceptualizes fashion and business. The tray comfortably fits onto your lap when sitting in your car doing last minute touches on your presentation, and the USB-powered mouse is nifty for those in a hurry”.
Gert-Johan also designed minimalistic, simple and sophisticated Volvo-inspired cufflinks and black leather belts “because these are the things that can bring an outfit together”. Arguably the accessory that Gert-Johan is most proud of is the premium car wash kit, which comes in a stylish houndstooth carrier bag.
“The thought process was of a person seeing their new Volvo for the first time – the excitement, adrenaline and the desire to want to keep it looking and smelling brand new. I was inspired by my own Volvo C30 R-Design’s brand new smell and wanted design a car wash kit that would make this possible”.
The kit includes a leather chamois, chamois sponge, car dressing, car shampoo, carpet cleaner, windscreen wipes, car interior wipes, as well as Gert-Johan Coetzee’s revolutionary Eau de toilette car perfume.
According to Gert-Johan, “knowing that Volvo is a superbly crafted Swedish car, I wanted to add a product to my range of accessories that is Proudly South African, which is why brought through a home grown tradition – the braai! Traveling in your Volvo around our beautiful country, the compact braai and cooler will only add to our enjoyment”.
Gert-Johan’s final accessory was the handbag clip. For fashionistas who wouldn’t want to put their highly valued designer accessories on any floor the clip, which has a magnetic core and which clips onto a table in seconds, offers an innovatively compact, fashionable and practical solution to their problem.
David Tlale’s accessories were “designed to exude power and presence without pretense, just like the Volvo S60. We achieve these high-end finishes thanks to unparalleled craftsmanship and the use of exquisite materials”.
His versatile unisex black trench coat is “slick, beautiful, elegant and timeless – attention to detail is key, and this item allows the owner to carry the style of the S60 with them wherever they go”. Another of David’s stylish accessories was his embossed leather CD holder, another versatile piece with its pockets and slots for an iPod, credit cards, and of course CD’s.
The understated first aid kit was another item inspired by Volvo’s own impressive reputation for safety.
This stylish black embossed leather bag contains multiple compartments and pockets with enough space for whatever medical supplies that may be required. According to David, “the S60 evokes passion and a sense of pure luxury, which hopefully came through in each of my accessories.
This challenge has been a beautiful experience and has given me a whole new perspective on Volvo as a brand. Volvo is not just a brand of car; it is a lifestyle that can be incorporated in every sphere of life”.
Nkhensani Nkosi’s range of accessories were inspired by safety and convenience, two aspects of her XC60 that spoke to her the most, saying that “the XC60’s simplicity, its focus on safety, convenience and its design sensibility have been most inspirational”. Part of her accessory range included a set of luxurious and practical leather bags inspired by Volvos beautiful two toned leather interiors.
These include a textured leather shopper, a small leather yoga bag, as well as a brown leather picnic basket complete with plates, glasses, and cutlery. Her range of jewelry was another indication that the style and luxury associated with Volvo’s is hard to ignore.
Volvo chandelier earrings “with Swarovski beads for a little bit of sparkle, which every girl needs”, a Volvo brooch, and a lovely large Volvo ring complete this collection. Her final accessory was a sleek and stylish umbrella. As Nkhensani herself said, “every time you need an umbrella you can never find one, so these are so handy to have in your car”.
At the glamorous Volvo Fashion Finale, Volvo ambassadors Proverb, Ashleigh Hayden and Avin Moorley, as well as other notable VIP’s such as Dion Chang and Jen Su lent their support to the 3 Volvo Fashion designers at the Volvo Fashion Finale.
Volvo and fashion fans were able to follow the progress of Gert-Johan Coetzee, David Tlale and Nkhensani Nkosi during the Volvo Possible fashion and design campaign, by viewing the weekly video updates on volvopossible.co.za, and it generated much anticipation leading up to the Volvo Fashion Finale.
To look back at the progress that the three designers made over the course of their design challenge, or to get an overview of the Volvo Car SA Fashion Campaign, visit the Volvo Car SA Facebook Page and the Volvo Car SA Twitter Feed.
Fans who wish to engage directly with the three designers can also log on to either Facebook or Twitter, where all three designers update their profiles and respond to questions daily. Gert-Johan Coetzee can be found on Facebook at ‘Gert-Johan Coetzee’ and on Twitter at ‘@gertjohan’, David Tlale’s popular Facebook page, ‘David Tlale Page’ has already attracted over 10,000 ‘likes’, whilst his ‘@Tlale_large’ Twitter feed is also immensely popular. Nkhensani Nkosi’s self-titled Facebook page is a hive of activity.
According to Volvo Car SA’s Marketing and PR Director Michelle Naudé, “one of the driving forces behind the campaign was to illustrate the fact that every Volvo is ‘Designed around You’.
People are at the core of everything we do at Volvo – each Volvo is not only designed with the individuals’ need for style, safety and comfort in mind but shows that we understand people and how they use cars. Volvo prides itself as being at the forefront of innovation in the motoring industry, and we hope to have reinforced this reputation with our attempts to combine motoring, design and fashion”.