Rich and famous all wrapped up

Gillian McAinsh

WINTER is the perfect time for the Eastern Cape to capitalise on its mohair bounty, with the wild and luxuriant fibre produced right here taking centre spot in the wardrobes and homes of the rich and famous.

“Mohair is the fibre of the future,” said Dutch trends forecaster Li Edelkoort on her visit to Design Indaba in Cape Town earlier this year, but already it is the fibre for those looking for silky warmth, glowing colour and a lustrous sheen.

Mohair South Africa marketing coordinator Anlé Marais keeps her eyes peeled for sightings of the fibre on the celebrity circuit and says it is being used more and more.

British billionaire tycoon Richard Branson, for example, has had his Swiss home in Verbier warmed up by mohair bed throws and pillows.

Each guest-room is splashed in a different bright hue.

The natural fibre – clipped from angora goats bred in the Karoo – takes dye exceptionally well, says Marais, yielding a rich, lustrous colour that wool battles to match. And, although acrylic wool comes in neon hues, it doesn’t come close to mohair for warmth.

Men’s suiting is one of the main destinations: Ricky Gervais hosted the Academy Award ceremony this year wearing a suit made from mohair, the men about town in pop group Maroon 5 have been seen wearing it and American Idol host Ryan Seacrest wore a navy mohair tuxedo by Burberry on the season finale.

It all adds up to millions of television viewers around the world, and a growing demand for mohair from the Eastern Cape, the source of 50% of mohair globally.

Sometimes mohair is part of the furniture, not something to throw on top of it, as seen in Hollywood in the hit US comedy series Friends. The iconic orange sofa the stars sat on in the fictional Central Perk coffee shop is for sale and is set to fetch between $4000 (R33160) and $6000 (R49740).

Closer to home, NMMU fashion design student Kelly Esterhuyse last year won the Elle New Talent Award with her mohair creations.

Cape Mohair Spinners marketing coordinator Mandy Wait cited Esterhuyse’s success as a major boost for the yarn, which is processed in Port Elizabeth.

Her win included the chance to design a range of clothing for the Mr Price retail chain, and her garments were featured in the national woman’s glossy magazine.

Mohair SA will collaborate again with Edelkoort for the Maison et Objet expo in Paris in September, one of Europe’s biggest interior design shows.

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