Designers vying for the title of Young Designer at next week’s Joburg Fashion Week completing their designs at Kingsgate Clothing in Durban. From left, Siyabonga Mtshali, Cheron Dreyer, Kene Mhletshwa, seamstress Anusha Jairaj and Shamyra Moodley. SHELLEY KJONSTAD African News Agency (ANA)
Designers vying for the title of Young Designer at next week’s Joburg Fashion Week completing their designs at Kingsgate Clothing in Durban. From left, Siyabonga Mtshali, Cheron Dreyer, Kene Mhletshwa, seamstress Anusha Jairaj and Shamyra Moodley. SHELLEY KJONSTAD African News Agency (ANA)

Up-and-coming couturiers vie for Young Designer of the Year title

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Oct 23, 2021

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The lockdown leisure trend is being relegated to the back of the wardrobe as glitz and glamour are expected make a comeback on the ramp at the AFI Fashion Week Joburg 2021 in Sandton next week.

While fashion gets back into action with the easing of lockdown, some top designers such as David Tlale and K Moraba, Imprint and Seditsi Collection will be showing, and it’s also a massive opportunity for new designers.

This week saw four of AFI (African Fashion International) Fastrack students completing their designs in Durban.

Vying for the title of Young Designer of the year, Siyabonga Mtshali, Shamyra Moodley, Cheron Dreyer and Kene Mhletshwa were at Kingsgate Clothing, feverishly putting the last touches to their designs.

All four said that lockdown leisure was done, as South Africa heads towards summer, with some glam evenings on the cards for end-of-year and holiday events.

Having grown up in Newlands, Durban, and now living in Cape Town, Shamyra Moodley, 40, left her past life as an accountant after the birth of her second child and moved into the creative space with her label Laaniraani.

Favouring sustainable fabrics such as cottons and linens, Moodley said she moved into fashion when, after working in Ireland, she returned to Cape Town and “I found myself sitting on the couch and knew I couldn’t be a stay-at-home mom, so I started a fashion blog”.

She started her own label, saying: “I get to define my own future; it’s a new decade and I get to recreate who I am.”

Siyabonga Mtshali, 23, who grew up in Richards Bay but headed for the bright lights of Joburg when he matriculated ‒ because “it was like New York” ‒ worked in theatre, dance and music before taking on the fashion industry.

“I studied fabric and I think about the movement and music that the garb is going to walk through. It can be a beautiful narrative,” he said. Looking towards the summer season, he added, “because of Covid, people are wanting to dress up a bit more and dive into some glitz and glamour. For summer ahead, I see a lot of gathers, tassels and embroidery”.

Johannesburg-based Kene Mhletshwa, 31, is inspired by simplicity and a clean look, using sheer fabrics.

“I’ve always loved fashion and I wasn’t good at maths and science at school. Fashion must be saleable and accessible,” she said, adding that she also does styling, and her “must have” item in her handbag was her lipstick.

Cape Town designer Cheron Dreyer was good at science at school and studied biosciences, but was always good at art.

“I was always doodling and I’ve always done dresses on the side, and the moment I stepped into a design studio, I knew it was where I was meant to be,” she said.

Dreyer never leaves home without her lip gloss and advised that lashes are still high on the trends list ‒ after all, masks are still on, with smiling eyes doing all the talking.

The AFI Fastrack is a national graduate fashion platform by African Fashion International which offers emerging designers an opportunity to showcase a collection at the Joburg Fashion Week.

The chosen designers are mentored by established designers, as well as doing an online business of fashion course.

The winner of the Young Designer of the Year is awarded start-up capital to invest in their business and a retail opportunity with the AFI e-commerce platform and House of Nala concept store.

The show will be hybrid, so both in-person experiences and online guests can go to www.africanfashioninternational.com to register, while the venue is the 41st floor, The Leonardo, in Sandton.

The Independent on Saturday

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