The Gearhouse Group delivered a slick technical package for Cape Town Fashion Week 2011, in keeping with the polished look of the fashion spectacular which took place between 13th and 16th July 2011 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Gearhouse SA supplied Lighting, Audio, AV, Power and Rigging and sister company Sets, Drapes, Screens (SDS) provided all set elements. The entire project was managed for Gearhouse by Theo Van As and Grant Orchard from the Cape Town branch.

The event featured a host of SA's most talented creatives as well as up and coming young designers. Gavin Rajah, Thula Sindi, Stefania Morland, Leigh Schubert, Abigail Betz, Daniella Margaux, Doreen Southwood, Habits Fashion Boutique, Undacova, Dax Martin, Lisp, Nucleus, Lalesso, Tart, Michelle Ludek, House of Monatic and Fabiani unveiled their latest collections for Spring/Summer 2011 - in settings to suit. 

The original 360 degree, all-white set design was devised by Grant Blackbeard and Deon Redman of Africa Fashion International and adapted by Gearhouse's Tim Dunn and Theo van As. The end result was an unusual square gloss walkway in the centre of the room which afforded the models ample opportunity to interact with the audience positioned on all 4 sides.

Pristine white screen surrounds suspended from a square ceiling truss configuration were used as a "visual wrap", surrounding the audience in a moving, virtual background of projection. Built-in 11.7m x 6.7m projection screens were used to display a mix of custom content, live camera feeds, AFI video, behind-the-scenes video and live twitter feeds. Gearhouse AV used centrally hung CHRISTIE Roadster HD18K Projectors for their punchy projection levels and image quality which lifted the projections out of the ambient light level. All AV content was supplied by Silver Bullet.

Positioned centre of the ramp, a slightly raised central "floating cube" finished in white tiles, was used for additional showcasing. SDS finished all set walls in a layer of PVC and Triacetate, a non-reflective material that does not show brush marks. The monochromatic surfaces were then brought to life by Tim Dunn's minimalist lighting design.

Dunn made clever use of MARTIN Mac 2000e Washlights and Profiles for ambient mood lighting and effects - such as the remarkable Abigail Betz boat vignette - which brought the central stage section into play. It took a total of 100 ETC Source 4 fixtures to achieve the precise lighting Dunn had envisaged for the ramp. One of the challenges of lighting this project was the meticulous calculation required to ascertain the exact angle and degree of light dispersion from the height of the truss to the ramp, to achieve the level and type of lighting required on the catwalk. Dunn's lighting was designed to focus attention on the garments and models, and to provide quality photographic lighting without diluting the wall projections. The resultant lighting looks were clean, simple and luminous, creating an almost ethereal atmosphere at times. 

The shows were mixed by world-renowned DJ Dino. Gearhouse distributed HiQ speakers around the roof truss to achieve even coverage for the seating stands. The Hi-Q has the perfect dispersion for this type of application; 60 degree co-axial 15” with 2” compression driver for the angle and distance to audience. 

Fashion royalty, Gavin Rajah held a massive "by invitation only" show upstairs in the CTICC ballroom, which pulled in the best-dressed crowds as well as celebrity guests like TV personality Jo-Ann Strauss. Here, Rajah unveiled an glamorous "East meets West" collection; combining metallics, sequins and floaty fabrics in a medley of colour.

Likewise, the set had a distinct Rajah flavour, using a mix of different projection types and screen surfaces together with 3D pixel mapping, making this show an absolute must-see from a technical point-of-view as well.

Grant Orchard from Gearhouse CTN designed the glamorous set and projection design which was based on the "pop up" invitations designed by the Gavin Rajah team. To create a similar feel, Orchard came up with a multi-layered set, incorporating 3 levels of projection. The finish of the set was simple but glamorous, comprising a white and black gloss runway with gold edging and a rear projection surface which functioned as a backdrop, using content projected from Christie 8K projectors. Further up the ramp, translucent fabric drops provided additional layering and in front, a huge proscenium arch displayed mapped projections from two Christie 16K projectors.

Grant called on Craig Shackleton, from Afterlife, to assist in the creation of the 3D animation, which brought the set to life and transported the audience from the Indian desert to a walk-through colourful Indian garden filled with lotus flowers.

"The fabric drops worked wonderfully, giving the impression of floating flowers within the set whilst allowing the guests to see models through the fabric, when they walked behind." said Orchard.

Gearhouse also supplied the Land Bank venue with complete technical solution and set / ramp for the DR Rey lingerie show and after party as well as City Hall – Legacy, where a fashion week highlights package formed part of the 67min tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Story Robyn D'Alessandro, Photos Simon Deiner (SDR)

Aug 26, 2011

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