Black Coffee is the label of South African designer Jacques van der Watt.
Black Coffee is distinctive for the way it blurs fabrication and fashion. The sharp structural designs are characterised by complex, layered shapes that yield a fastidious fashion sensibility that is at once restrained and bold.
The design goes beyond adornment, often melding the body with the pattern in a meticulous feat of engineering. It renders fabric in relief, its carved features projected from the surface, marking the body so that skin is brought to prominence and embossed with fabric.
Despite its exacting geometry it remains subdued with utterly feminine traits like fine pleating and intricate ribbon trimmings so that the garments are right for work wear yet strikingly befitting of evening wear too. Jacques van der Watt is a master of discreet style that refines craft, embellishing on traditions like millinery and applique and echoing African motifs but with a modern verve.
Black Coffee’s installation-like shows are always integral to the mood of the garments and sites have been selected at unusual venues like the Great Synagogue on Wolmarans Street, the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the steps of Constitution Hill.
Jacques is one of the pioneers of fashion in South Africa, heralding fashion as a standalone industry at a time when it was restricted to occasion-specific garments. He was one of the initial unknown brands that collaborated in South African Fashion Week in 1999 that originated fashion as an art form in this country. The label soon gained attention and Black Coffee has shown at South African, Cape Town, San Francisco, Berlin and New York Fashion Weeks. It has been nominated five times for the SA Fashion Awards and has won twice (in 2001 and 2007). In 2009 it won the Mercedes Benz Art Award with an installation that was shown at the renowned Daimler contemporary gallery in Berlin. In 2010 it won Best Designer in a new awards ceremony hosted by African Fashion International.
Everyonecanbeadesigner by Black Coffee is the label’s diffusion brand. Launched in 2007, Black Coffee created a totally new clothing solution: one garment that transforms into as many as five variations, each with its own look and style. This is an entire range which can fit in one suitcase - a ‘capsule range’ ideal for the demands of a modern lifestyle and a must have for travel.