Mantua – for the love of silk

Silk scarves are making a HUGE comeback this season.  From handkerchief hems to retro prints, the grandmother essential and the French-girl’s go-to accessory was revisited by designers everywhere.

Chanel’s Resort 2018 show saw the scarf-top make a comeback with a model clad in sandy-toned version, offset with a beach-style wrap-around sarong. Designer Dries van Noten’s spring/summer 2018 showcased the silk scarf draped as an asymmetrical skirt or a slinky wrap dress.  At Altuzarra, scarves were deftly woven into the outfits and employed to line the jackets, adding a bohemian touch. Alexander McQueen too played with teacup floral dresses and used scarves to add a sense of whimsy to their structured bags.

Locally, some of the most beautiful silk scarves we have seen in a long time are those by Mantua, a fabulous new brand by Juandi Andrag, who lives in Stellenbosch with her husband and three young girls.

 

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We met up with Juandi to learn more about Mantua. Juandi is one of those people blessed with creative hands. Trained as a chef in Stellenbosch, she spent some time working as a food stylist and writer in Johannesburg. “Seven or eight years ago I decided to study fashion design, because this is actually what I’ve always wanted to do. It was not easy at all, especially having kids, and with the last one being born while I was studying!”

During her final year she used silk for one of her projects and the seeds for Mantua were sown. Inspiration behind the name is both French (meaning cloak, mantle) and Italian (Mantua, an Italian city known for silk production). “This is where it all started. I think I was also searching for something of lasting value – in this fast-paced world we live in, where everything is so disposable – the search for something more permanent, was probably the driving force behind it all.”

Juandi is inspired by American expressionism, colour and emotion. “I’ve always painted, especially watercolours. Each of my scarf designs, of which only 40 of each is ever made, starts as a watercolour painting. From here it is scanned and the final art is created, ready for production. My scarves are all 110 cm x 110 cm in size, which work wonderfully as a wrap around your head or neck, an accessory on your handbag or even as a top. The options are endless!”

 

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Suitably impressed by Juandi’s beautiful silk creations, we can’t help asking a few pointed questions:

Have you ever thought of quitting?

Every second day! Some days can be tough when you are starting a new business and being a mom to young children. But then, the passion to express emotion through colour and luxurious silk gets me going again. And I really want to show my young girls that you can follow your dream and make a success of it!

What is the toughest part of the business for you personally?

Getting the supply chain working smoothly has been the most time-consuming aspect. The day-to-day mundane running of the business requires determination.

Do you have any advice to other entrepreneurs?

During the planning stages, talk to as many people as you can – young and old. Talk to those who have been successful and those who have failed. From there, take time out to reflect and then follow your gut. Go with what is true to you. From there things will start to develop – there is a natural flow to things that you can’t control –you have to constantly adapt and be patient. Just keep following your passion.

Where do we find Mantua scarves?

Mantau scarves can be purchased at mauntua.co.za, platform23.com and at Dorp Street Gallery in Stellenbosch.

 

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