"We're in the middle of the worst drought in 23 years in South Africa, and when you hear people making up words like watershedding, you realise that we must start paying attention," says the designer, who's become as known for his social conscience as he is for the high-voltage glamour of the red-carpet dresses he makes for his celebrity clients. "Water is the essence of life, and we should treat it as precious. My new collection came from that: it's a celebration of water, bubbling and flowing along a riverbed, reflecting light, cascading down waterfalls."
Coetzee says he was shocked to learn that in some parts of Africa, people have to make do with only 20 litres of water a day - which is how much you use in a 1,5 minute shower. "UN guidelines say that a person needs 50 litres of water a day for hygiene and to prepare meals. In SA we use 70 to 190 litres a day, according to Water Wise. We all have a responsibility to be mindful of our water usage, so that we can help to build the reserves that we need to avoid water restrictions," he says.
This season Coetzee is teaming up with Ferrari, which is hosting his exclusive invitation-only showcase at Scuderia Johannesburg at their new state-of-the-art showroom in Bryanston; and Sony Mobile, whose brand-new Xperia Z5 Compact with the world's best smartphone camera, will train 23 megapixels on the runway on the night. "I'm thrilled to have partners on board who are as passionate about exceptional design and functionality as I am, and together we're preparing a really mind-blowing show," says the designer.
The boho-glam range includes fluid draping, sparkling Swarovski Crystal droplets and cascading design details to evoke the water inspiration. Ready-to-wear garments from the range will be available online at Spree.co.za immediately as they are revealed. "Our social media 'Shop the Ramp' campaign with Sony Mobile and Spree will ensure that fashion lovers from all over the country will be able to see the follow the event, see the range and buy their favourite dress right away, to be delivered to their doorstep a couple of days later… This revolutionary concept is making designer fashion truly accessible to everyone around the country," says Coetzee.
Gert-Johan Coetzee shows his Autumn Winter 2016 collection for South African Fashion Week at Ferrari in Bryanston, on Wednesday 21 October 2015.
* IOL, adapted from a press release