Move over Vera Wang. DUT Fashion’s Casey Jeanne Walters is ready to take over the world of custom-made couture wedding gowns. The chic designer showcased her Masters Exhibition entitled, Final Fitting, at the DUT Art Gallery on June 3, 2015.
Her new, sexy bridal collection is called Jeannelle la Amour, a tribute to her French-born, orphaned grandfather who was adopted during the war and moved to South Africa.
Speaking at the exhibition, the beaming Walters chatted about her gorgeous range, postgraduate research into the SA bridal industry and how the Chinese import market has affected local designers such as DUT’s Terence Bray and Francois Vedemme.
“It was really about finding ways to bridge a gap between that bespoke market of South African designers and the import Chinese market and providing people with other options. So my Master’s was on finding ways to improve my practice as a designer and also to make the process slightly faster and still create stunning bridal wear for beautiful brides,” she added.
Walters loves French lace, imported silks, beaded embellishments, hand-embroidery and details and ensures all her garments encompass her love for precision stitching. In her research as an undergraduate student, she was not formally taught how to draft blocks for bridal gowns or how to stitch bridal gowns.
In 2012, she was awarded the Vukani Fashion Awards National Best Collection and Overall Title Winner as well as the national winner for the Live Out Loud Young Designer Bridal Awards. She also clinched the titles of Gateway’s Durban July Preview Show Recycled Designer as well as first place at the Young Designer Awards in Sandton in the same year. She then went on to design Top Billing’s 2009 Presenter Search winner, Kelly Parkhurst’s wedding gown at the end of 2012.
Shortly after that, Walters was awarded runner up at the National Wedding Expo Young Designer Competition. She was also awarded first place at the 2013 Vodacom Durban July Fashion Challenge and the following year was hand selected as one of the Vodacom Durban July’s Premium Invited Designers. In 2014, Walters was selected to showcase at South African Fashion Week – two seasons in a row – with a successful partnership with Edgars being born. One of her proudest accolades was being nominated for the KZN Young Achiever Awards where she took home first prize in the Arts and Design category.
– Andile Dube