Following the tragic murder of talented young fashion designer Richard Bloom in April this year, his lover Bryan Hellmann, and Richard’s mentor and boss, the acclaimed fashion designer, Craig Port, have established a foundation in his memory.

The Richard Bloom Foundation aims to keep alive the passion Richard showed in pursuing a career in fashion by investing in other aspiring young designers.

Bryan Hellmann and Craig Port launched The Richard Bloom Foundation at a special fashion showcase on the third of August. The foundation aims to provide support and practical training for young designers entering the fashion industry. It will be a Section 21 not-for-profit company; run and managed by a board of trustees.

The event took place at the Bree Street Studios in Cape Town, and showcased Craig Port’s Spring/Summer 2007 collection of as well as that of Deeva van der Merwe, the winner of the Pursuit magazine Fashion Eye Competition. Deeva is an up-and-coming new designer selected by Craig and Pursuit magazine, as an intern, and is the first to benefit from the Richard Bloom Foundation.

Craig, through the foundation, has been mentoring Deeva in the development of her own collection for the event as well as funding the production of the collection and show.

Craig explained: “Richard joined Maze clothing five years ago and became not only a valued colleague but also a close friend. By launching the Richard Bloom foundation his legacy will help many young designers achieve their dreams. Opening up opportunities for talented new designers, such as Deeva, would be something Richard would be proud to be associated with.”

Collections by both designers followed the theme “Meet the Sunshine” and took a strong influence from Craig Port’s recent travels in Latin America, in particular from the city of Acapulco which has a legendary reputation as one of the world’s most stylish resort destinations.

In true Craig Port style, the Meet the Sunshine fashion show had a strong resort feel, fusing the atmosphere of the fifties wardrobe with an ultra-modern cruise collection approach. Craig’s recent sojourn to Mexico not only provided inspiration but also gave him time to source raw materials – from the electric colours of the indigenous crafts of the Mayans’ descendents to the hibiscus prints influenced by the natural beauty of the sub-tropics.

The evening began with a slideshow presentation projecting images and memories from Richard’s life. We saw him at play; with his nearest and dearest, and in his travels abroad. In every image his trademark smile shone through.

“…The time is right to heal. The question of why this happened must in some way be answered….”

Afterwards, in a loyal tribute to his late lover, psychologist Bryan Hellmann made a moving speech outlining the aims of the foundation as well as touching the audience with the powerful life lessons that have come from the tragic and unnecessary murders of his beloved Richard Bloom and their friend, Crazy Monkey actor, Brett Goldin.

In an interview conducted the day before the event, Bryan elaborated: “At the time that Richard and Brett were murdered, preparations for Fashion Week were under way. Fashion was the big thing in Richard’s life the four years that he was involved in it. Quite soon after he was killed, Craig Port and I started discussing how we could include Richard’s memory some way in Fashion Week.

We weren’t sure at the time what that would translate in to, but there was a definite willingness on both our sides to try and find some kind of way to create meaning out of the situation.”

Richard worked on the X&O label along with other Maze designer Kim Govaars, and we decided that the fashion show on the third of August would be dedicated to Richard as well as Craig’s fashion show in Johannesburg.

On being asked why there was no reference to Richard’s memory in the Cape Town Fashion Week Port show, Bryan explained; “That was intentional because that show was the full YDE show. There was a decision to separate the two matters and keep the YDE show just about YDE.”

“The show on the third of August is all about Richard and remembering him.” And indeed it was.

Here follows the transcript of Bryan Hellmann’s moving speech at the launch of The Richard Bloom Foundation:

“Richard’s beauties, his manner, in his gestures and in his spirit are in this room with us tonight. I welcome him into this space; celebrate him, his wonderful, colourful, magnificent life; a life unique and fantastic. He always was and is so very proud, and I am deeply moved by his energy.

Good evening everybody. I am delighted to see you, each and every one of you. The love, kindness, warmth and spirit in this room are magnificent. On behalf of myself and of course Richard I want to thank you for taking some of your time to make this foundation something unique and the evening a success.

The main aim of tonight is to introduce you to one of the functions of the Richard Bloom Foundation as I envision it, the bursary competition. The Richard Bloom Bursary attempts to create an opportunity for one young designer who has excellent design talent but does not have the financial resources available to them to nurture their talent. The particular person will be selected by a panel and will receive one full year of tuition at a specific design school; the tuition will be covered by the funds generated by tonight’s event. Designers have been asked to submit an entry design board which takes the shape of a design suggestion for the “Meet the Sunshine” theme.

The winner will be announced in Pursuit Magazine in January next year. In addition to creating this opportunity, we feel, the Richard Bloom Foundation as a whole, in other words not just the bursary project, will in many ways create meaning and harmony out of the loss, and sense of tragedy and confusion caused by Richard’s death. Richard displayed a uniquely keen enthusiasm in developing his brilliant potential in the fashion industry; this sense of excellence will receive continued nurturance by other young talented people who show a similar excellence in their drive and motivation. The Foundation will continue to create these kinds of opportunities in the future; I envision these opportunities to take on various other forms such as auctions and the like.

I hope this will transform the sense of loss in the community into something different which will be filled with gain and growth. The time is right to heal. The question of why this happened must in some way be answered. I hope the words you are about to hear can initiate a process of healing and making sense of some of it. I do not suggest to you that I have the answers but I can assure you, I have found some resolute strength and hope out of what I am feeling and expressing.

I realise that the grief I feel is different to the grief you feel, it has to be, what makes our grief similar is that we all face the reality of immortality in a clearer way now, there is definitely a different perception in many people’s minds as a result of Richard and Brett’s murders, whether it is conscious or not. I hear it and listen to it often in my interactions with you. The most conscious of my feelings and awareness of Richard today, is a feeling of tender gratitude. I am not surprised by this; I am challenged and fully motivated by its significance. Some of you may have heard the following words come out of my mouth, I say them often, they are the famous words of Victor Frankyl; “Man needs to make meaning out of life, out of the suffering.” As I think about the sincerity of my gratitude I realise I am searching for meaning in Richard’s tragic

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