Lead DesignerGAVIN RAJAH
Prize(s)2nd Place in Haute Couture / Women_HC
Entry Description

Campaign for A|W 2014/5 Couture Collection. Inspired by digital voyeurism and social vices. The collection uses silk failles, satins and organdies and we wanted to reflect the idea of transparency and provocation. The campaign was launched with a hashtag #itsadirtybusiness at the Design Indaba in Cape Town and ended up being a metaphor for the fashion industry. The installation at the exhibition was a huge digital projection of a movie that was created during the shoot projected against the backdrop of a public toilet.
The success of this collection is based on the fact that people were drawn to seeing the garments in person and that enforced the entire precept of couture. It showed the level of quality, craftsmanship and the luxuriousness of the fabrics and the attention to detail. The tone of the campaign also helped to infuse a new sense of youthfulness to couture which is generally perceived to be staid and very rule bound. One of the principle aims of the campaign was to try and attract a younger clientele with a high disposable income and the garments and the visual language of the campaign achieved this as it was launched via social digital media platforms as well. Both the photographers and stylist on the project were also chosen based on their work that they had largely done for youth driven brands.


Gavin Rajah is an entrepreneur in the world of fashion on the African continent. Gavin Rajah as a brand is synonymous with discerning style, and is a household name in SA. Collaboration with micro-economic projects specialising in traditional skills and crafts are his passion and he is constantly seeking ways in which to promote this to the rest of the world. His work has featured in international publications such as L’Officiel, Milano Finanza, icon, Luna, Avant Garde, Harper’s & Queen, Uomo Collezioni, London Sunday Times, London Financial Times, The Face, Donna, Citizen K, Vogue (Online), BBC, CNN and the Los Angeles Times. His interests range from socio-political theory to esoteric psychology. He has dressed Naomi Campbell, Beyonce, Jodie Kidd, Tina Turner, Celine Dion, Tom Cruise, Nelson Mandela, Cameron Diaz amongst other celebrities. He has designed jewellery collections for The Tanzanite Foundation, De Beers and AngloGold Ashanti.

He has been the only African to speak at the Global Luxury Goods Conference in Milan and his paper on “Creating an Identity in Design: South Africa a future in fashion?” made headlines in the Wall St Journal and Milano Finanza. He was invited by the Federation Française de la Couture to show in Paris in July 2006, which was a first for South Africa.

Gavin started and funded Cape Town Fashion Week. Gavin also fought a landmark case in preventing the trademark and registration of the words ‘fashion week’ and which allowed the formation of other fashion weeks in the country. This was a principled action against the intended control of fashion by a single entity in SA and he ended up winning against the plaintiff and the Registrar of Trademarks and Patents in SA after their motion was withdrawn.

Gavin is strong on mentorship and in 2007 chose to mentor 4 black South African designers