The Presidential Gold Collection debut at Africa Fashion International Johannesburg Fashion Week on Friday 5th October celebrated Africa and Asia in the most luxurious manner.

Those who attended the event were moved by the unique designs and exquisite fabrics exhibited on the runway. A complete range of Spring/Summer garments were on show as the brand went well beyond the signature Presidential Shirt for which it is known.

Italian born Presidential designer Pietro Giannuzzi has lived in South Africa for over 20 years and has brought an AfroItalian flair to the brand. “I love detail, I’m proud of every little piece of these designs, the linings, they’re so finished. The execution was of the highest quality”.

The collection was primarily menswear, with 45 unique men's looks and one showstopper dress for the African Queen. Featuring a fusion of Africa and Asia, the collection included trench coats, quilted puffer jackets, kaftans, t-shirts, shorts, shoes and more. A high degree of expertise was evident in the finish of the garments and included a number of artisanal techniques including hand embroidery, hand-painting on silk, beading, patchwork, hand-quilting and appliqué. The central theme of the collection was the thread of gold present in every garment, with varying degrees of prominence.

One of the designs included a statement, hand-quilted silk puffer jacket in vibrant red. The silk floral fabric featured teal, lotus-inspired detail and threads of gold throughout the garment. The look was a contemporary and striking take on Afro-Asian fashion. Another design from the range featured an unmistakably Presidential fabric, resembling an original ‘Madiba Shirt’ but in a three-piece ensemble which included a shirt, shorts and trench coat. The batik silk fabric was hand-painted with gold to highlight finer detail. Model Prince Moeketsi said “I transformed from Prince to King” in the collection.

The footwear featured in the collection was handmade locally at Arnolds Shoes under Pietro’s design and guidance on working with Presidential fabrics. All the shoes are leather and suede, combined with select Presidential fabrics and added trims for effect. One of the more captivating designs included a bold yellow, orange and black paisley Presidential fabric.

Resembling a peacock, the showstopper dress was a representation of the entire collection, marrying African artisanal crafts and styling with Asian inspired print. Many contrasting pieces of hand-painted Presidential fabric were used for the dress and train of the garment. Model Loren Jenneker said “I felt like a goddess” walking the runway in the piece.

Presidential, who last walked the catwalk two years ago, would like to make this a more frequent occasion and are looking to select a number of fashion students who would appreciate mentorship from Pietro Giannuzzi, as well as an apprentice to learn from Pietro and to work on the next show. Interested upcoming or recent graduates of fashion should email [email protected] with a CV and a paragraph on their passion for design and for Presidential.

The shirts and the finishes for the Presidential Collection were made at the Lontana Clothing factory in Gardens, Cape Town, with other pieces being made at various artisans in Cape Town and Durban. Many of the garments from the collection will be for sale at the Presidential stores in Nelson Mandela Square, OR Tambo International and the newly-opened V&A Waterfront. Others will be available to order.