Chu Suwannapha launched a new womenswear collection for S/S 2017 under his label CHULAAP in collaboration with online retailer Spree. We caught with the designer affectionately know as the ‘prince of prints’ to chat about the launch of his first ever CHULAAP womenswear collection since launching the label at South African Menswear Week back in February 2015.
How did the collaboration come about?
I’ve wanted to create a womenswear collection for a while now, and it seemed the perfect opportunity with the Spree collaboration. My designs are always very straightforward, and most of time quite unisex. They’re very simple to translate from menswear to womenswear. My philosophy is that dressing should not about impressing the person next to you, it should be about adding personality and confidence to oneself. So my signature style didn’t change at all – you can still tell that it’s the same ‘men’s’ designer who has created this womenswear range. The only differences are the lady-like 1950’s inspired tops, dresses and skirts.
How long have you been working on it?
Spree initially approached me when I launched my menswear, but I kept delaying because of my full-time title as Fashion Director for several magazine titles at the time. Once I accepted, I think the whole process about 2 months. We worked together from the blank canvas, choosing the styles and fabrics together, and voila….CHULAAP WOMENSWEAR CRUISE COLLECTION SS17.
Please tell us a bit about the process of creating the prints.
I get inspired by what I see and hear around me everyday, be it the arts, culture, architecture, politics or nature. I don’t stick to only one thing or a single idea. Sometimes you need to create your own inspiration or fantasy for your collection, like making a story board. I didn’t work with wax prints as I usually do, as Spree already offered these from other designers. I wanted to do something very different. So the fabrics I used are natural fabrics and the prints I used for this collection are more contemporary and graphic – they’re Afro Pop. The prints are bold and basic with 3D elements, they create an optical illusion with a lot of depth and dimension. I love playing with graphic lines, like the diamond shapes and the op-art bubbles which make each piece come to life.
What was the thinking behind your choice of silhouettes?
This collection is inspired by the everyday African woman; it combines a 1950’s feminine silhouettes with traditional and graphic prints with an oriental twist. Each piece can be worn separately or combined to make a modern statement with head-to-toe prints. Fashion should always be effortless and practical and that’s why I’ve designed beautiful garments to flatter and celebrate the African woman who is looking for key pieces that highlight both her spirit and individuality with vibrant flair. At the end of the day, fashion should add character to your personality.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m so excited to bring my womenswear collection to market. As a designer you put your all into your range and it’s been an incredible journey - one that I’m very proud of. Who knows what’s next? I heard someone the other day comment that it would be great to own some CHULAAP Homeware…watch this space.
CHUULAAP’s Cruise Collection by Chu Suwannapha is available from www.spree.co.za from 11 July.