BY ELI CHEP & EVE CHEGE
As fashion weeks flip pages of gala calendars for 2015 in Europe and the West, Africa recently played host to the premier sartorial event of the year, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Jo’burg 2015 that took place in the premier commercial and retail space, Melrose Arch, known for its definitive standard of luxury fashion and culture.
The star-studded line-up was a fierce one featuring South Africa’s most illustrious designers like David Tlale, Ruald Rheeder, Gavin Rajah, Fabiani, and fashion newbie, Nhlanhla Nciza of music group Mafikizolo who debuted at the fashion gala for the first time – with them revealing their latest Autumn/Winter 2015 collections. Other local designers from the South who showcased included Marianne Fassler, Stefania Morland, Suzaan Heyns, Fabiani, Khosi Nkosi, Tart, Augustine, KL Tsotetsi, Samantha Constable, and Shana.
Top fashion designers such as Tlale and Rajah are not only iconic examples of the talent within South Africa’s fashion industry, but both are a beacon of the success that local designers can achieve internationally, having shown their collections at, amongst others, New York, Paris and London fashion weeks.
But with an exciting twist with fresh addition to this year’s lineup, African Fashion International (AFI) also welcomed the multi-talented designer Nhlanhla Nciza back to the ramp to prove that she’s not only a songbird but a style icon too. Lead vocalist for one of Africa’s hottest music group Mafikizolo, Nhlanhla returned to her fashion roots as she debuts with her collection, NN Vintage, which was living proof that her musical talent translates flawlessly into design, which has always been a key passion in her life.
Nhlanhla is one talented woman who’s proven that she can do fashion, and do it really well. Speaking to replay254’s Eve Chege in an exclusive interview at the event, Nhlanhla said her mother played a pivotal role for her love of fashion. “I remember growing up I used to admire the way my mom used to dress when going out with my father. And the one thing I liked about her is that she was never into things that were in trend.”
Her collection, aptly named ‘The Evolution Collection’ was an eclectic mix of bold designs fused with bright fabrics from Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and South Africa. Nciza believes that it’s time the world looked to Africa for fashion inspiration.
“With this collection, we aspire to show the constant rise of Africa as a continent and the pride we have in our culture and how we are able to celebrate culture through fashion,” said Nciza in an interview. “The common thread of life through Africa is the willingness to grow and develop without losing one’s culture,” she continued.
Celebrities like Khanyi Mbau, Jessica Nkosi and Lerato Kganyago took to the ramp to reveal the much anticipated colourful line. The show was attended by Nciza’s family, friends, industry peers as well as First Lady Bongekile Zuma.
Nhlanhla has enjoyed immense success with her unique and dynamic twists on vintage favourites; not only stepped up her fashion profile through her showcase at the fashion premiere but even in the personal styling accredited in entirely all music videos under Mafikizolo.
Nhlanhla is the owner of the vintage fashion label NN Vintage. The label, established in 2011, has dressed personalities including Uyanda Mbuli, Zahara and Nciza herself. NN Vintage is a dynamic clothing brand, which embeds in its designs elegance and an appreciation of African print.
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Joburg 2015 was a showcase of world-class design and beauty that also featured high-end boutiques and global clientele, organized by Melrose Arch and African Fashion International (AFI). African Fashion International has in recent years served as the gateway to refined African fashion.