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Hokusai and Nthunya Inspire New ALC Collection

From across time and continents Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai and South African ceramicist Frank Nthunya bring ALC's menswear to life.

Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

ALC, Hokusai, Frank Nthunya

The bold forms, colours, textures and moods coming from Amanda Laird Cherry's Autumn/ Winter 2019 collection had the House and Leisure team inspired and intrigued. So, to learn more about the vision behind this forward-looking response to the exciting new wave of menswear coming out of the country at the moment, we reached out to ALC founder Amanda Laird-Cherry about what went into the collection.

Learn more about the collection's fascinating fusion of cross-continental, and time-bending influences below, a process that brings to life a dreamy partnership of legendary design heroes. 

We're in love with the new collection, where did you look to for inspiration?

ALC, Hokusai, Frank Nthunya

The initial inspiration for this collection stems from the work of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, in particular two of his pieces from “The Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” series; one of them being “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” and another focussed on Mount Fuji itself. The combination of colour, texture and mood of these two works caught our interest and resonated powerfully for the upcoming season.


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Along with this we collaborated with independent ceramic artist Frank Nthunya for our ladies wear AW19 collection. Through the process of developing the men's collection, we drew inspiration from Frank’s spontaneous and experimental working process of realising the silhouettes of his pots, the intricate detailing in the textures, and the effect and colours that the surface of the clay takes on once fired.

ALC, Hokusai, Frank Nthunya

When did you and Frank first meet? 

The seeds were planted many months ago when I visited Frank at his studio at the Hillcrest Aids Centre.


Things that are made with love are priceless

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And how did the influences lead you to the menswear collection? 

We definitely have aspects of the two collections that relate to each other but we are inspired by the more experimental side of South African menswear. We value the opportunity to expand each season on the exploration of local cultural aesthetics that has been an anchor of the brands identity from the start, but become more prevalent within the industry in recent years. 

ALC, Hokusai, Frank Nthunya

The colours are wonderful. Why did you select the palette?

Our colour palette was a response to appreciating the colours used in the two artworks mentioned above, and it has a primary base of black, navy and charcoal, with a secondary palette of white, earth, tumeric and olive. This is complimented by accents of dove grey, dusty pink, and faded coral.

You relocated to Durban. What's it like working between two cities to put a production, and collection, like this together?

It is a commitment for sure, as you have to transport everything and everyone across the country to get to the venue at extra expense. Plus, right at the end we need to finalise fits and all the coordination that goes into getting the looks ready for the ramp, in a different city and without our studio and support base. Having said that, we love traveling for shows - it’s a great chance for the team to have a change of scenery which makes the pressure and stress all worth it. In terms of logistics, proper planning needs to go into it in order to have the most successful outcome and experience. 

ALC, Hokusai, Frank Nthunya

The Cape Town/Durban commute is one that has occurred throughout my life. I was born in Cape Town and when I was young my dad used to have to travel to Durban with his horses for the July horse-racing season. Then we moved to Durban and travelled back to Cape Town for the November to February season through my school years. Doing South African Menswear Week (SAMW) twice a year within these two same time frames has brought back many childhood memories and been a very profound experience. 

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