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Meet Our Creative Director
Born and raised in the era of apartheid in South Africa, Vanessa’s early upbringing and experiences in the townships made her determined to break through the glass ceiling. Vanessa grew up on a small farm in a mixed racial area near Durban, South Africa, with her grandparents and two other families. Under the apartheid government, her family was forcibly moved to a dormitory township. This experience made an indelible impression on Vanessa and ignited the awakening of her political consciousness.
Her hard work and determination paid off as she went on to gain a university degree and become a successful entrepreneur in post-apartheid SA. Hardship and segregation have had a lasting impression on Vanessa, moving her to serve under Mandela administration, helping to build a new South Africa following the first democratic elections in 1994.
Her ebullient spirit, passion for social issues, love of art and innate creativity has all drawn Vanessa to the world of fashion. She decided to expand her business portfolio and take her passion a step further by setting up her eponymous fashion label, Vanessa Gounden, in 2011. It is unsurprising then that her signature prints are conceptual and challenging, with each print serving as an elaborate canvas to create awareness of social and political issues for the past 8 years. Her strong sense of colour and eye for aesthetics has its roots in her childhood: from the rose farm where she worked, to the expansive dramatic landscapes and vibrant African culture.
Vanessa combines original artworks and photography to create highly unique and contemporary prints. Her work is easily distinguished by its meticulous attention to detail and luxurious fabrics. Also signature to the brand, and present in every collection, is the Vanessa Trench, a coat-dress cut with a strong, classic feminine silhouette, and a personal favourite, the versatile scuba print dress, which is by far the most exquisite and easy-to-wear luxury piece.
With a strong sense of citizenship and responsibility, Vanessa is committed to uncover and sponsor new artists as well as train and employ craftsman, tailors and seamstresses in fine skills and pattern matching. Artistry and techniques already used in Vanessa Gounden creations have revived bygone textile skills and provided employment to local artisans, not only in her South African based Atelier but also in various parts of the world where remarkable talent is discovered and nurtured.