He does show reels and this here, is an editorial `reel` of Jan Malan, whom over the years has generated a great part of his production in fashion.
Who would have thought Jan Malan who once had a modelling career was in the military. He served during the eighties and to supplement what he describes “a measly income”, he modelled part-time.
"I was booked to model in a few shows and before you know it, I was helping the organisers with choreography and music. This led to me starting my show production company [Umzingeli Productions] in 1985.”
That’s basically how it began for the Namibian-born – with him producing music festivals as well as award ceremonies, but it was in 1996 when fashion really kicked-in, through M-Net Face of Africa. And now he upstages presentations in fashion, making it a greater part of his business, which he has no qualms about.
"I am passionate about taking a designer's vision and realising it on the runway."
In the cycle of producing garments, how it is consumed by the world counts. There’s an element of entertainment, however, a greater importance is in people getting the message which is why Malan stresses the importance of being aligned with the designer.
Since we move in a connected world, from someone who started in the simple days of the industry to it becoming what it is now, has this advance made the industry more competitive? Malan says:
"Absolutely, and everything is out there for the world to see instantly, designers have to find more creative ways to stay relevant."
And because technology has also changed actual products from hard tangible items to soft or digital, Malan welcomes this and it has worked well for his creativity.
"I love making use of visual imagery to support the collection using LED's and projections and graphics in creative ways. When I started out I had to carry a box of vinyl records with me for every show. Today I carry it all on a memory stick or instantly download it from iTunes. That's the joy of the advancement of technology today."
He highlights the importance of excellent planning, good organisation, imaginative people management and thinking on your feet as keys to a successful production. But looking at fashion, it oscillates between fantasy and reality, and this is how keeps balance:
"I listen to the designer; the designer becomes my muse. Then I frame the designer's creative vision with a proper plan and good management."
The magic of a successful show is in the details though; the painstakingly minute as well as: “synchronicity and above all, passion” he says.
Pictured above: David Tlale, New York Fashion Week fall2014
Reaching into his memorabilia, shows for David Tlale in New York Fashion Week and SA Fashion Awards for Media24 are some of his memorable work. In fact, it’s hard for him to mention just a few and this is a pick from a list he gave. But it is satisfying to know there are plans to curate a collection of his work over the years:
"I just need to get into action and plan it – a 30th anniversary exhibit is in the works."
Shows don’t stop for those who trip and fall on the runway, or to remove hanging threads from a garment, it’s a machine that keeps moving, you can liken it to life and plots twist along the way. Perhaps Malan knows this better than many, he’s kept it moving that he cannot even separate himself from his work, realising it as something in his DNA.
He’s recently headlined production at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg, where his get up and go song, Get Together by Human League kept him going. And so the show goes on for him, who lives and breathes production, it doesn’t stop even after the big show curtains are closed.
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