Sistaaz of the Castle Explores Transgender Sex Workers That Roam The Streets of Cape Town, South Africa

Photographer Jan Hoek and fashion designer Duran Lantink present Sistaaz of the Castle, a project about the style and fashion of transgender sex workers in Cape Town, South Africa. Together they created a series of photographs and a fashion collection around their fashionable appearances, and their ability to make the most exuberant creations of everything they find. The project will be shown during FashionWeek Amsterdam and an exhibition at Foam Photography Museum Amsterdam. The local sex workers’ organization, S.W.E.A.T., gave Jan and Duran the opportunity to meet and collaborate with their transgender support group Sistaazhood. For this project, Jan and Duran zoom in on six girls from the community: Coco (25), Cleopatra (23) Sulaiga (30), Gabby (29) Flavinia (33) and Joan Collins (57). Most of the girls are homeless, living under a bridge beside the castle of Cape Town. Jan Hoek made photographs of them, their lives and their outfits. The documentary images serve as a lookbook for the collection of Duran Lantink. The designer was inspired by the creative ability of the girls to produce beautiful creations from found garments. He recognized a similarity to his own process, using different recycling methods and collage techniques. Along with the creations, the artists were interested in how the girls would like to look if they had unlimited possibilities. One of the girls would like to work in a luxurious Victorian brothel. The 57-year-old Joan Collins dreams of a wedding dress and a third wants to become Miss Africa. All these fantasies are translated into a dream-couture capsule collection by Duran, which is also photographed by Jan. In addition to the fashion show and exhibition, a printed publication (APE) will be published and distributed worldwide in March 2016. Eventually, Jan and Duran will return to South Africa to present the Sistaaz of the Castle project on its original site. Usually, transgender sex workers are presented as perpetrator or victim in the South African media. The girls of Sistaazhood expressed their wish to be seen positively in the news. The collection will be presented during FashionWeek Amsterdam at the Gashouder on January 16 at 7p.m.. The Foam exhibition will be on view until January 20.