February 15 2012
Lucia van der Post
Vanessa Gounden is a most unlikely entrant to the world of fashion. Her day job is as CEO of HolGoun Investment Holdings, a company primarily involved in mining, which she owns with her husband. But it appears that she has energy left over for some of her other great loves – namely art and fashion. With her Vanessa G fashion brand she has brought the two together, creating a clothing line based mainly on prints inspired by works of art.
Born into a poor South African family and brought up in a township, Gounden is on a mission to uncover and celebrate artists that she and her team discover personally. None of the names is well known, few have works that have travelled beyond the shores of their native country, but in Vanessa G’s range of clothing they are starting to make their mark.
Each piece features an original artwork or photograph that is then reworked either through hand-painting, appliqué or other forms of embellishment. For the moment, the clothes are sold online only, but Gounden is on the look-out for a London boutique.
Coming up for spring are some very sophisticated garments, the prints absolutely in tune with the mood in mainstream fashion. She combines strong silhouettes that resemble, say, a Victoria Beckham or a Roland Mouret, with the sort of prints more usually found in a piece by Peter Pilotto or Erdem – except that hers, of course, are taken from original works of art.
The collection is almost all in silk and prices range from £395 for a skirt (I particularly like the dusky Cityscape skirt, £475, which has a 1950s retro feel about it – think Grace Kelly) to £675 for most dresses. There is also a stunning red A-line coat with a striking black pattern (pictured, £1,055). Already, her designs are being seen on some of the UK’s emerging fashionistas, from Amber le Bon to Poppy Delevigne.