The soft side to a tough exterior

Mail & Guardian article: The soft side to a tough exterior

Clive Rundle, known for his meticulous craftsmanship and brazen fashion sense, has chosen the title Fragile for his latest collection.

Clive Rundle

Photo: Paul Botes (M&G)

In it, he hints at the experience of being shattered and dispersed. He will envisage something whole being broken, which will come through strongly in a white garment degraded with burn holes.

For this collection Rundle has associated his theme with an ecological phenomenon: the Earth’s crust moves around a molten core while the plates cause geological changes.

The whole is solid, Rundle says, but it is also fragile.

But there is more. He also explores the way our fragile nervous systems and blood vessels exist in bodies perceived to be strong and resilient.

“Fragile is not as fragile as we imagine it to be,” Rundle says. “There’s an underlying negative connotation to the word fragile and it’s not true. We all need to experience fragility, otherwise we are too tough.”

His favourite choice of fabric is silk, which he claims is “easy to find on the street”. For this collection he uses Japanese-inspired colours—black, grey, orange, blue and lime. Contemporary Japanese are now well known for the unsubtle mixing of colours.

Rundle expands his design talent beyond clothing. In the seasonal fashion week collection he will show a handbag collection just as, in the past, he has shown outlandish ­jewellery collections.

Rundle’s collections are available at his store in Rosebank, but he refers to the 1980s when his label was hanging in more than 50 local outlets.

“People were buying more local labels at that time. The smaller stores that were owned by individuals have disappeared over the years.”

He is working with an overseas mentor and part of his long-term strategy is to target a younger, international market. It has led to a collaboration with his assistant, Christopher Malo. They will design a ready-to-wear collection aimed at that market this year.

“The younger generation doesn’t necessarily follow me into the store, so we need to keep them coming in to stay alive in the industry and ­continue the brand,” Rundle says.

Malo has been with him for five years and their collaboration is a way forward for him. “His aesthetic is unique,” Malo says. “At Clive’s shows, people see something they’ve never seen before. This ready-to-wear collection will also be a side no one has seen. My aesthetic is younger and simpler and more restrained compared to Clive’s. We therefore complement each other.”


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