Once upon a time, sitting on my couch, simply scrolling through Instagram, I randomly came across a post about a competition held annually by SAFW called ‘New Talent Search’, the theme was focused on sustainability. The advert asked in bold text, “Are you a fashion designer”. My eyes widened and I thought to myself, ‘Why, yes I am.' I immediately felt an excited rush run through my body and my tummy butterflies began to dance around. I decided to look into the advert and see if I fit the criteria. But looking back, it was destiny.
The list was long, initially I doubted that I would be eligible to enter, but, I continued gliding my eyes down the list, I repeated in my head, ‘I have that, yes, yes, that’s me’. I decided to submit my portfolio that included my biography, business plan, my brands sustainability model and collection’s designs.
A few weeks past and I received the best possible news that I had been selected as a finalist, among hundreds of applications and along with another six young, dynamic and talented designers. We had 8 weeks left to begin and complete each item, every look, all the accessories and shoes, to present our capsule at South African Fashion Week, day one.
Eight weeks flew past, with hardly any sleep, but loads of coffee and big dreams, we conducted fittings a few days before the event and made any necessary adjustments. Lucilla , director of SAFW, was the perfect balance of detailed toughness and trusting love, it was so clear that she wanted the very best for me. Lucilla suggested a few alterations and a new way of presenting my head pieces, it all made perfect sense, with so much knowledge and experience, I absorbed everything she recommended and actioned it accordingly.
D-day, also known as Judging day or Show day rolled around. The morning of the show, we had to prepare our models in complete outfits and present them to a panel of esteemed judges, it consisted of : Cyril Naicker from Fashion Revolution SA, Jackie May from Twyg, Annette Pringle-Kölsch from The Fashion Agent and Leigh Toselli. The interview process flowed so easily and organically, I remained calm and hopeful.
Then… show time. There is one word that comes to mind, that is the word ‘manic’. Backstage is intense and chaotic, yet magical. It’s almost like an organised chaos is unravelling before our very eyes. In between each show, there is approximately two minutes to dress seven models from head to toe and not a second more. Each model has two/three dresses dedicated to them to ensure that each item for every designer is fitted and displayed well on the model. It is a beautiful orchestra!
We all showcased at 18:30 with seven final looks. My family and friends cheered me on as I made my debut. Then, the time came to announce the winner, to my shock and appreciation, they called my name. I felt emotional, joyfully overwhelmed and very blessed!
As Lucilla announced that Lucent was the winner, I remember stalling a bit, as if the world had stopped spinning for a moment. I nonchalantly stayed in the same position with my knee bent resting on the bench, until the other designers brought me back to life pushing me in the direction of the stage. I was a wreck, a happy, ecstatic one. Long nights, hard work, tons of perseverance rolled down my face in the form of tears. My models did their final walk and I walked behind the last model to receive my prize, it was more of a hop as my legs stopped functioning. It all happened so quickly, before I knew it, my parents were in front of me with wide brimmed smiles and my brother with teary eyes holding up a camera so proudly. There were people surrounding me with cameras, notebooks and recording devices by my mouth. It sounds ridiculous, but this is what really happened – it was a very surreal experience.
After conducting a few local and international interviews, my boyfriend and cousin helped me pack the collection safely in the car. We went downstairs to meet with my family and friends, all 30+ people seated along a narrow table with drink-in-hand cheered, smiled and clapped as I approached them. It was one of the best nights of my life!
There were so many beautiful memories that will forever live in my memory bank. Besides winning the competition, I’d have to say, just being a part of such a massive, exhilarating production such as SAFW was incredibly inspiring and humbling. I was able to meet industry leaders and designers I looked up to my entire career. It was a culmination of hard work, some magic and luck coming together with a golden thread that made all the tears, stress and long nights so worth it!