Durban Fashion Fair protégées unfurl their wings
The eight emerging Durban designers hand-picked to form part of the Durban Fashion Fair Rising Stars Collection have unveiled their creations just days before the Vodacom Durban July.
The thriving Durban Fashion Fair (DFF) incubator has produced numerous designers who have successfully established their businesses and built their brands under the guidance and mentorship offered by the DFF programme, underscoring the city’s reputation as a hotbed for fashion design talent.
Each of the eight emerging designers was hand-picked from the 2020 DFF Mentorship programme to create a raceday outfit based on the theme “Birds of a Feather” and when they were revealed, they showed an exciting diversity of creative interpretations and high quality of construction of the final garments.
Judaine Naidoo’s bold black and white design echoed the concept of Yin and Yang and was based on global bird migration patterns.
“Black feathers represent protection and spiritual wisdom and the white feathers represent purity and alignment,” said Naidoo. “For me these colours represent a balance of the positive and negative.
“In the same sense, birds of a feather flock together. How you look is how you feel. Individuals with the same pursuit and motivation meaning people who are like minded would stick together.
“Just as birds migrate to better conditions I will naturally move towards the positive and what’s going to help me achieve,” he added.
Mbali Zulu’s intricate lace bodysuit and flared chiffon skirt with an intricate beaded corset are all based on the endangered Tinmeh African grey parrot.
“I have tried to transpose the beauty of this bird to women, and I have utilized feathers to exude modernism, glamour, drama and seduction,” said Zulu.
“The corset is beaded with wooden beads and is low in front and high at the back and comes over the face of the model as a beak of the bird. It represents how free the parrot is when it is flying. It also has to protect itself from humans that are hunting it to extinction.
“The design and transparency of the lace body suit with its long sleeves represent the freedom of flying. The turtleneck is a symbol of the loss they have survived to the point of extinction.
“The flared chiffon skirt is longer at the back like tail of a bird, and is inspired by the dark grey colour of the Timneh Parrot which looks like it is black,” she added.
For one of the driving forces behind the Durban Fashion Fair programme Nonku Mthembu, the deputy head of the SMME Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit at the eThekwini Municipality, the new platform with the Vodacom Durban July provides a robust stepping stone in establishing the next generation of design talent.
“For me, the Vodacom Durban July Fashion Experience DFF’s Rising Stars Collection category is extremely important to us as the eThekwini Municipality as it gives us an opportunity to highlight how our programs are well thought-out and well-structured empowerment tools to connect designer learnings from the moment of training emerging designers to sharpen their business acumen and design skills to them displaying their skills learned on a big and as international a show as the Vodacom Durban July.
“The City’s Fashion Development program, affectionately known as the Durban Fashion Fair (DFF) has reinforced the fact that the municipality is serious about fostering Durban’s thriving fashion and creative industry and is dedicated to making this sector one of the economically viable sectors, especially during this time of Covid-19 and the threat it poses to the economy.
“The DFF’s Rising Stars Collection category consisted of eight emerging Durban designers that were part of the DFF Class of 2020 Fashion Mentorship program where we trained and mentored twenty designers and twenty models, amid COVID-19. This is a fashion empowerment program dedicated to giving designers tools as well as the much-needed spotlight as they start their fashion careers,” said Mthembu.
“These are new entrants in the industry and it is exciting to see how they have collaborated to present such an amazing collection instead of individual pieces and competing against each other. Their interpretation of the theme “Birds of a Feather” is on point! It is creative, fashion forward and so Vodacom Durban July! I also like how they have paid attention to detail, texture and colour to show their skills.
“The partnership we enjoy with the Vodacom Durban July through DFF has assisted positioning the City as a destination that is a contributor to the creative design sector, competing equally in the fashion and textile industry, and the city is elevating emerging fashion designers to new heights through the Vodacom Durban July, in spite of Covid-19. For these designers, this is one of their career milestones and a memory to cherish,” said Mthembu.
“A forward-thinking approach needs to be adopted to create an ecosystem that will ensure a financially secure future for the local talent while growing the economy and using the fashion industry to create jobs, and ensure the sustainability of fashion designers. DFF needs to be an active voice within this sector, identify potential impact and position the program and the fashion sector in general as one of the key investment opportunities.
“We have recently seen this happening when we partnered with SASCOC to afford four Durban Designers (youth from the DFF Class of 2020) in collaboration with Mr. Price, to design Team SA kit for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This milestone is a local and international recognition of what we do, and more especially for the designers, and we hope it gives direct ties with the global fashion industry to allow competent designers to participate actively and sustainably in the sector.
“It also shows immense potential for the program and we aim to have more conversations and partnerships that lead to active participation of local designers in the growth of the economy,” she added.
Photographer : Sean Laurenz
Makeup : Make Up Your Mind – Aldytha Da Silva
Hair : Hair Inc – Claire Swart
Shot on location in the Umgeni River Bird Park