Celebrating Tourism Month

Archery in Parys

Trying my hand in Archiery at the Real adventures place in Parys, Free State province. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

My first road trip was with three of myvfriends. We planned the trip from Durban to Cape
Town in three months. We were young and carefree. We divided the trip into two parts with an overnight stay in Knysna.

For dinner we ate sushi for the first time, in a restaurant by the harbour. This was followed by a late night of drinking at the bar at the backpackers’ where we were staying before stumbling to our four-bunk bedroom in the early hours.

The next morning on the road was rough, we were tired, hungover and excited at the same time about reaching Cape Town. We arrived just before sunset at the Green Elephant backpackers in Observatory, our home for four nights.

The staff welcomed us with open arms and we formed friendships that are still alive today. We spent the days sightseeing in the CBD, shopping at the V&A Waterfront, sipping cocktails in Camps Bay and driving up Signal Hill.

2. Quad Biking in ParysPicture:Paballo Thekiso

The nights were spent playing pool in Lower Main Road Observatory and club-hopping in Long Street. Without realising it until the last night, we had spent most of our petrol money. Our parents came to our rescue, but not before scolding us for our irresponsible
behaviour. Memories from that trip remain fresh in my mind.

What made the trip extra special was we managed to save the little money we had at the time for an adventure that would see the four of us bonding… we learnt a lot about each other during the long drive in a small Corsa.

“I would like to think this trip ignited a lust for travel in each of us”

Since then, the four of us have travelled extensively in South Africa, as well as in Europe and the US. Contrary to what some might believe, one does not require a fat bank balanceto be able to travel, be it local or international. However, some saving and smart planning is key.

Common sense goes a long way. For example, buying a plane ticket a few months before you travel will be cheaper than booking the flight the day before you are due to travel.

In the past, I have taken the Greyhound bus to Durban to visit my family and overland trucks to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Namibia for holidays. The experiences are priceless.

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Queening with the BaSotho women dressed in their traditional wear called Thebetha

“Venturing out of your comfort zone and learning about other people and cultures will teach you things about yourself and the world you won’t find in a textbook”



Enjoying a sunset cruise on the Vaal River. Picture by Paballo Thekiso.

One of my favourite Sho’t Left (domestic travels) trip include a visit to Joburg where I caught up with friends and family. On a recent trip there I spent a weekend in Soweto, which is home to some of South Africa’s world famous names, such as Nelson Mandela, and is known for history changing moments such as the 1976 Soweto student uprising.

During my stay there I visited the Mandela house in Vilakazi Street, a buzzing street lined with restaurants and cafés… a not so common sight for a township. There is an electrifying energy that hangs in the air that when I left, I felt empty .

Recently I paid a visit to my home town, but opted to stay at a hotel in the city centre instead of home as they were busy renovating. I saw Durban through the eyes of a tourist for the first time and I became one.

I visited art galleries, museums, took long leisurely walks on the beachfront promenade and discovered cafés where I spent hours watching people. I returned with a new-found appreciation for the city where people have no whims about striking up conversations with strangers. I realised how much I missed this simple act of ubuntu (human kindness) that is still alive there.


Last week I spent a week in the Free State visiting several towns. It was my first time there and I experienced a number of firsts. I learnt about towns I never knew existed, such as Vredefort near Parys.

I quad biked, I tried my hand at archery and went river rafting on the Vaal River. All these sporting activities were never on my to-do-list of fun things while on a holiday before this trip.

1. L-R Liam Joyce and Nontando Mposo river rafting in the Vaal RiverLiam and I slaying. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

September is tourism month, an annual celebration focusing on the importance of tourism for the economy. The theme for this year is Tourism For All: Promoting Universal Accessibility.

It aims to encourage everyone to explore and rediscover our country. So, round up a group of friends or family for a Sho’t Left somewhere.

Visit:www@shotleft.co.za for more travel inspiration. 


Connect with me and follow my adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58. 

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on September 2016. 



Portraying the joy of African children


My favourite painting by South African contemporary artist Nelson Makamo is that of a young boy sporting a short afro and red glasses.
The expression on his face is pure joy… I can almost feel the warm laughter bubbling in his belly. Looking at the artwork brings back childhood memories of playing for hours without a care in the world. I have the image saved in my phone and I look at it each time I need a quick pick-me-up. It always makes me smile.

I tell Makamo this when I meet him at a Cape Town hotel for the interview and he smiles knowingly.
“When you think it, a lot of art that comes out of the continent, some would describe it as sombre or dark. However, come winter or summer it doesn’t matter, we always have the sun… that is the thing about Africa,” he says.


“It’s the beauty of how Africans smile through everything and that is how I look at my subjects and from a child’s perspective as well. It doesn’t matter where you go in the continent, when you find children playing there are similarities that take you back to your own childhood,” he says.

Makamo’s large-scale portraits of children display various features and personalities of quirkiness. Each lined sketch drawn in charcoal, watercolour or pen and ink is distinct and is often done in black and white with pops of colour.

At 34, the Joburg artist is one of South Africa’s celebrated talents. His paintings are worth thousands of rands with one of his drawings, So full of youth – not yet abused selling for R250 000 at a recent Stephan Welz & Co auction – a record for the artist at auction.


“As an adult there are a lot of things that we do that we pretty much fence ourselves around from, that we don’t feel or see certain things anymore. That free thinking and openness to learning we can only see it through the eyes of a child,” says Makamo.

Born in theLimpopo town of Nylstroom, now Modimolle, Makamo moved to Joburg to join the Artist Proof Studio in January 2003. There he studied on a bursary for three years and worked for another two as sales representative and curator of the gallery. He has since held solo exhibitions here at home and in France, Italy, the US, the Netherlands and Scotland.

His childhood was like any normal child raised in a small town environment, he says. Sundays were for church, weekdays were for school and his free time was spent reading Marvel comics such as Spider- Man and Iron Man… which planted the roots for his artistic talent.

“My stepdad pretty much made me the man that I am today. Being the only child in most cases there is this preconception that you are spoiled, but I never experienced that. During school holidays my parents would send me to my cousins so I sort of grew up with a lot of cousins around me,” he says.


“My love for art started early and was mostly influenced by cartoons. We collected a lot of Marvel comics at home… that is actually how it all started,” says Makamo.

He sold his first drawing in high school for R125.
“Most of my drawings then were about comics. I drew characters such as the Ninja Turtles and Batman and would show them to my peers.

Being an artist was not my first choice. In Grade 10 I decided that I wanted to be a chemical engineer, so after matric I briefly studied Engineering at the Vaal University of Technology.

“Three months into it I was like, “I don’t think I see myself as an engineer, this is not something that I want to pursue’.

“Looking at the communities we are raised in, one often doesn’t think that you can turn your Godgiven talent into a career. Some people even went as far as saying I should become a cartoonist , you get all sorts of advice,” says Makamo.



The beginning of his career was no walk in the park, he says.
“The first three years after graduating were not easy for both myself and my parents. They were always concerned about how I was going to make a living with art. It also didn’t help that there was little information on South African artists… there was no fully documented history of art that one could study. The focus is mostly on old masters, such as Pablo Picasso and Michelangelo.

“Digging deeper I discovered SA artists such as Gerard Sekoto and Dumile Feni, who belonged to a township movement of black artists. They became pretty much my influencers”

“Through their art you got to understand our country and where our cultures come from. This sort of gave me the confidence to say that I can make a living out of this. Most of them didn’t have proper materials to draw with so they used cheaper mediums such as charcoal and oil soft pastels.”

Makamo never leaves home without his camera and his “bible”, a small sketch book in which he scribbles things and sketches people who catch his eye.

“I always say that I am a storyteller because I live and see things from a third-person point of view. I draw mostly from memory, but sometimes I see a scene and I have to capture it quickly in my ’bible” or I use my camera.

“In my work I try to capture emotions in a language that the person next to me gets without me having to explain. It’s interesting if you think about it, how we are all connected.

“There are a lot of things that bring people together and a lot of those things you can only see through the eyes of a child,” says Makamo

“Children are the most forgiving beings. It is always heart-breaking when you travel or when you google African children, the images that they give you does not represent who we are, only that of poor and starving children.. it’s actually so disturbing when you think about it.

“I took it way too personal, that is why I started basing my work around it. It’s a way of saying, there is another version of an African child that I can give you.”

When some people ask me about my background, it’s almost as if they expect me to give them a poor background and take away the talent. I would be doing myself and the beautiful culture that I was raised in an injustice.  That is why I portray most of my subjects with glasses, as a way of saying they are geniuses, he explains

“Why do you look beyond us, judge us and have your own conclusion about us without sitting down and having a one-on one-conversation with us?

“The support I have from South Africans, regardless of who buys my work or not, is very inspiring and it is what drives me… makes me stand taller. It is as if people were waiting for someone to wipe away the stereotypes,” Makamo says. 

Nelson Makamo.JPG

l Find the artist Nelson Makamo on Instagram -@nelsonmakamo

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on August 8 2016. 

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: @Nontando58. 


AW 16, the H&M South Africa way

HM shot 2

Shamiel and I are wearing H& M South Africa


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Shamiel wears boots from H& M South Africa and I am wearing their knit dress. The rest of the clothes are our own. 

The cold winter months are here. I am not particular a fan of winter shopping but I do enjoy layering, a long stylish coat and knits. Shamiel Hagee (model and stylist, find him on Instagram: @Shamielsham) and I recently did a really cool streetstyle photo shoot with photographer Ashley Robertson (IG handle: @Majesticaash06).

Wearing the latest H& M South Africa AW16 (http://www.hm.com/za/)  range, we took over the beautiful streets of Cape Town. Here are the dope images we produced. Happy shopping Fashionistas!!!


How amazing is this dress?!! The fit and material is just perfect. Dress by H&M South Africa.


Dress and sequins jacket by H& M South Africa.

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Shamiel and I are wearing bomber jackets by H& M South Africa.


Bomber jacket and knit dress by H& M South Africa


Jacket and dress by H& M South Africa.

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HM Shoot 1

This is my favourite shot. Until next time SLAY!! Find me on Snapchat: Nontando58.

Swimwear that fits so good


pic by SDR photo

AN array of jewel-toned tribal prints celebrate modern Africa, while tourmaline and tanzanite tones give a sophisticated feel that wouldn’t go amiss at Coachella or the beaches of Formentera.

Celebrated South African designer Craig Port launched his latest swimwear collection at The Glen Boutique Hotel & Spa in Sea Point to the delight of onlookers as the The “Port Squad”strutted around the hotel’s pool in skimpy briefs and thigh-hugging shorts. Port, whose Spring Summer 15 swimwear collection features design details that display thoughtful branding and eye-catching trims, giving it a refined edge, spoke to us about his work.



 Five words that describe your SS15 collection? Retro, athletic, bohemian, hedonistic, carefree.

Tell us about the inspiration for your collection. I was influenced by 1970s poolside utopia, retro athletics and bohemian hedonism. I want the pieces to become essential vacation companions that take you from sun lounger to sundowner with a clink of a glass.

What type of man do you see wearing your collection? I was inspired by my #PortSquad of celebrities, friends and models, and I see the collection resonating with the modern man, someone looking for a happy and carefree summer.

What do you enjoy most about designing swimwear? I am a total beach bum and travel is an integral part of my design process. I’m
incredibly inspired by the sea and the ocean. From Mykonos to Bakoven, swimwear is a huge part of my life over summer.

What are some of your favourite swimwear trends for summer? 

Square or box cut briefs and the “above the knee” swim short. I loved playing with prints and juxtaposing them with retro cuts. I had a lot of fun with this collection.

What is important when shopping for swimwear? Fit is everything. Go for a style that flatters your body shape.

When looking for models to represent your brand, what do you look for? I have a long-standing relationship with Boss Models as they have a super hot line-up of some of the world’s top male talent.

“Confidence and a bit of cheeky attitude are essential for shows.”

What are three things you feel contributed to the success of the brand?
Hard work, a clear vision and a passion for design.

What do you think about sustainability and sustainable design?
I believe that as a designer you have a responsibility to be conscious of the world around you.


Which other swimwear designers do you love right now? Orlebar Brown and Osklen.

What’s your favourite swimwear trend? Jewel tones and tribal prints have been getting a lot of exposure.

How would you describe your own personal style?
Modern, refined and relaxed.

What’s one item you can’t live without at the beach? My Lancier sunglasses.

Advice for aspiring designers? Anything is possible. If you can dream it then you can do it, but don’t forget to work hard while dreaming. Put your head down and go. Always look ahead and don’t let what others are doing affect you and your journey.

Where can we purchase the Craig Port swimwear? YDE stores nationwide. Pieces from the collection start from R450

For more information, see http://www.craigport.co.za.
Twitter handle: @craigport

Last words? Watch this space, London Fashion Week, here I come!

tara and I

Tara of the trendsoiree blog and I.


The feature was first published in the Cape Argus on December 2 2015. All pictures are by SDR Photo. 

Follow me on Instagram: Nontando58.



Bringing the stylish hijab out of hiding

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA:  Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

The demand for “modest wear” is growing and a number of top designers are now branching out to cater for the untapped market of Muslim women who want to be glamorous and conservative at the same time.

New York-based fashion house DKNY did it first by creating a capsule collection for the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan last year, and other design powerhouses such as Oscar de la Renta and Tommy Hilfiger followed. On social media, several campaigns have been launched such as “I love hijab” which encourages women to post photos of themselves in full Islamic wear. What it has shown is that a number of young Muslim women are choosing to wear colourful and stylish hijabs instead of the traditional black. Roshan Isaacs, managing director and editor in chief for Style Africa Fashion Network, believes that modest wear in the fashion industry is still undervalued.

The online network is a portal for the latest trends in fashion, design and creative talent, and aims to inspire South Africans to buy locally designed and made products in order to develop and promote domestic talent.

“The market for modest clothing is a multibillion dollar industry yet a lot of designers have not tapped into it. Most Muslim women have to get their clothes custom-made in order to be on trend and that needs to change,” says Isaacs.

Isaacs was recently appointed the South Africa country manager for the Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), the world’s leading modest fashion and design (art, architecture, interior) council representing the Islamic economy and its stakeholders. Her responsibilities include supporting and developing the modest wear fashion industry through services and initiatives intended to expand its platform in the country.

“One of the things I am working on is getting a collection of modest clothing on a runway. Modest clothing is a huge market that exists but has never been seen on a runway here and yet Muslim women are people who represent South Africa as well.

“Also, there are many designers who don’t know how to reach the market and my role is also to connect and train them to understand the market,” says Isaacs.

“Muslim women aren’t often seen in a positive light in our societies, but mostly viewed as oppressed for being forced to wear a scarf. My work is geared towards changing that perception. People wonder how I shop or how I manage to match my scarves with my outfits… I probably have enough scarves for the nation. It’s part of my wardrobe, my attire and so I incorporate them into my outfits,” she says.

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Isaacs is a regular face at South African fashion weeks, and her immaculate fashion sense and colourful, beautifully wrapped turbans and scarves are highly praised and admired in fashion circles. I met her at a contemporary café in Claremont, close to her home from where she runs her online magazine.

Isaacs was born into the world of fashion as one of four daughters of Abobaker Isaacs, a talented designer who owned a fashion academy and designed for the likes of Gucci.

“My family tree includes Indian and Irish blood… my background is completely mixed. I feel like I am authentically South African because it’s the only country I know and I love it’s diversity… My one sister looks like an Arabian queen and the other one is a redhead. We are a very diverse family,” she explains.

“My father did couture and his parting gift to his daughters was our wedding dresses. He designed each of our wedding dresses and the nice thing about it is that he did it in a way that personified the relationship he had with each of us.

“Mine was gold with a high Victorian collar, which is what I love… I love the Victorian era.”

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Pics by :Ferdinand Van Huizen- MUA: Marietjie Hurter-Stylist:Roshan Isaacs

Launched in 2013, the online network is run by a team of industry experts who are passionate about promoting South Africa’s fashion talent, Isaacs explains.

“I have been in the broadcasting and media industry for about 20 years and it wasn’t giving me the fulfilment that I craved… of developing and training young people. My ‘aha’ moment came when I was standing in front of a magazine shelf and didn’t see any magazines which appealed to me as a South African.

“Besides being a Muslim woman, there weren’t any magazines that portrayed authentic South African fashion. Everything there was a syndication of the magazines from all over the world. I felt that we are not the East or the West, but are authentically African and have something to offer the world. That is why Europe and Indonesia are interested in what we have to offer, but we are not showcasing that,” says Isaacs.

“Building the company’s credibility in the fashion industry was of high importance. The company is now solely run by me – from curating to selecting stories, writing, social media and attending events. But when it gets too much I reel in my reinforcements who are always ready and willing to contribute wherever possible,” she says.

“I love media and I love broadcasting and so I married the two and created Style Africa Fashion Network as a media platform… It really was not about profitmaking but about exposing the industry to the rest of the world and building the country’s design label,” says Isaacs.

“My challenge is getting funders to see the investment opportunity in helping Style Africa market our proudly South African design industry and having them share the same passion and drive as I and so many South Africans do.”

Roshan Isaacs’ top 5 fashion tips

●I love turbans and scarves, not only draped on my head but used as a blouse. When I need to pack light for a holiday, an array of colourful scarves make for amazing blouses which you can fix up yourself with no buttons, stitching or zips required.

●Play around with colours – sometimes we think certain colours won’t go well together but when you play dress-up for the day, try colours which complement, contrast or are mismatched. You will find a new outfit created with colours you least expected would work.

●For an elegant and chic look, stick to clean lines and make a statement with colourful, bold or even edgy accessories – be it a bag, belt, shoes or earrings.

●Dress your size – it’ll fit and look a hundred times better than a body bulging at the seams of a tight-fitting outfit or you looking bigger in an oversized garment.

●No matter what you wear, always finish it off with confidence and a smile.

●Roshan Isaacs hosts The Modest Chapter for the IFDC on www.youtube.com and is also a presenter at the Voice of the Cape radio station. Visit the Style Africa Fashion Network at http://www.styleafrica.co.za or follow her on Instagram@RoshanIsaacs.

*This feature first appeared in the Cape Argus on November 9 2015.

All about the H&M x Balmain collaboration.

I am wearing the HM x Balmain jacket and H&M pants. The picture is by Tracey Adams.

I am wearing the HM x Balmain jacket and H&M pants. The picture is by Tracey Adams.

It is a Tuesday morning in New York City and we are about to get the first glimpse of the highly anticipated Balmain and H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) collaboration collection. We are at a press conference in the grand 1927 masterpiece, the Ralph Walker Tribeca building at 100 Barclay Street.

Since Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of the Parisian luxury fashion house Balmain, announced the news of his partnership with the Swedish retailer earlier this year at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, fashion lovers across the world have been waiting with bated breath. Over the months, Rousteing, who is followed by 1.5 million people on Instagram, teased us with campaign images featuring his super-model friends, the “Balmain Army”: Jourdan Dunn, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid.

At 30, Rousteing’s career growth has been impressive. After taking up the role of creative director at 25, this orphan from France has quickly become the globe’s most in-demand couturier .

Describing himself as an “H&M generation boy”, Rousteing says the collaboration is a dream come true: “For me being part of the H&M story, it’s an honour, it’s a privilege and it is something that celebrates a vision and aesthetic.

“Ten years ago I was part of the Cavalli collaboration. I was an assistant, I also started an internship in Cavalli.

“When I think 10 years later I’m with Balmain, the creative director, I’m building that amazing story that we’re going to share together. I feel like it’s a dream come true,” says Rousteing.

Olivier Rousteing, Kendall Jenner

Olivier Rousteing and  Kendall Jenner

Over the years H&M has collaborated with a number of international designers to make high-end fashion more accessible, including fashion giants Karl Lagerfeld, Roberto Cavalli and Versace.

At the press conference, Ann Sofie Johansson, the creative adviser at H&M, praised Rousteing’s talent.

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How hot is this top?! Picture by Tracey Adams.

“I think we have a wish list of designers we would like to collaborate with and Rousteing was on that list.

“We also get a lot of questions from our customers, demands really, who to collaborate with next… he was one of the top names there. It’s also fun to have a collaboration that is opposite to what we had last year with Alexander Wang.

“That was really sporty and streety, now we have this opulent, glamorous and a sexy collection,” says Johansson.

The hashtag for the collaboration is H&M Balmain Nation #HMBalmaination which symbolises unity and diversity, explains Rousteing: “I love fashion for two reasons. I love to do clothes, but I think also fashion helps to bring about a vision. A vision of diversity and at the same time unity and uniqueness.

“With H&M it was literally expressing the diversity.”

Why the ‘nation’? “First, because obviously this line is more affordable than my own line. “I think for me it was more than building the Balmain Army, I could reach more people, different ages, also different continents because Balmain has not so many stores like H&M.

“For me it was literally building a nation that believes in the Balmain universe, the DNA of Balmain,” says Rousteing. 

Joan Smalls

Joan Smalls

The collection includes a menswear collection that would fit right in a 1980s Michael Jackson video and womenswear made up of cocktail dresses and fitted jackets.

It’s a collection of beautiful timeless pieces boasting the Balmain aesthetics of embroidery and embellishment, in leather, silk and tulle with subtle detailing and gold buttons.

Also part of the range are bold  high-heeled caged sandals with a rope design and accessories. Items in the collection range from R749 to R5 999 for a fully beaded party dress and jacket. Accessories start at R399.

“The most important thing for the collection was to translate the confidence, the sexiness and the power of the (Balmain) house.

“Then you’re going to see the diversity of Balmain, and how it is for different people, for different continents and different worlds. I want everyone to feel welcome in the Balmain world,” he says.

The Balmain Army captures this and is made up of models and A-listers that personify Rousteing’s take on fearless femininity.

Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Jourdan Dunn

Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Jourdan Dunn

“Hadid and Jenner are two strong girls and they are also different as an aesthetic. “It was important to work with them, as well as Dunn. The Balmain Army is always girls that I believe in and who believe in me, it’s important to share that.

“I think it was important to build this squad of strong girls that are going to be strong women,” says Rousteing.

That evening we witnessed a spectacularly choreographed runway showcase at the launch event at 23 Wall Street, featuring the Balmain Army It wasn’t your typical runway show, but a star-studded, flashy celebration attended by the likes of Kylie Jenner, Alexa Chung, Diane Kruger, Alek Wek, Lewis Hamilton, Coco Rocha, Ne-Yo, Ellie Goulding, Jessica Hart and Soo Joo Park. Black attire was a popular choice for the evening, where drinks flowed and guests dined on canapés, burgers and fries.

Dudley O'Shaughnessy

Dudley O’Shaughnessy

The show ended with a surprise performance by the Backstreet Boys, after which we
were treated to an opportunity to shop at a pop-up store in the building’s

Kylie Jenner and Lewis Hamilton.

Kylie Jenner and Lewis Hamilton.

On what he enjoys about working in the fashion industry, Rousteing says: “I love the creativity of fashion so much.

“I really believe you can be creative and be happy, that you can make fashion and still be smiling. Sometimes people think fashion has a lot of dark sides, and that no one smiles, no one laughs. I want to show that you can create and still be happy and young, and still have your dreams. It’s a wonderful world and I am so glad to be a designer because I’m creating dreams.”

Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding

“And his advice for budding fashion designers: “The fashion world sometimes has so many boundaries where you can’t express exactly what you want to express. Comments about critics, about a show. Just believe in yourself. When people say you’re controversial, push your ideas and vision and don’t be afraid. You have to be sure of yourself,” says

Alessandra Ambrosio

Alessandra Ambrosio

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● I was in New York City courtesy of H&M. This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on November 2 2015. 

● The HM x Balmain collection will be available from Thursday at the H&M V&A Waterfront store, and at the H&M Sandton City store on Saturday, as well as online.

Fashion creative blogs for Africa

Photo by Mark Manual May

Photo by Mark Manual May

Shiraz Reddy is a familiar face on the local fashion scene. From fashion weeks to fashion soirées, Reddy is there, always impeccably dressed. His passion for supporting and celebrating local creatives and designers is infectious and sets him apart from his peers. Having his hands in different pots – such as PR and events co-ordinating, broadcasting, blogging and styling – makes him a fashion and entertainment all-rounder.

“There is a lot of organic growth in the fashion industry at the moment. And instead of fashioning your brand to be like the next ‘top US retail brand’, South African designers and the industry as a whole are going back to our African roots, taking what we’ve grown and exhibiting it in the clothes we wear and the conversations we have about fashion. Also the trending fashion phrase is ‘prints is the new black’,” he says.

This is evident in Reddy’s latest fashion editorial titled Print Party, which features a mesh of bold and clashing prints and textures. The editorial currently on his blog, The Boy on the Park Bench was shot at the University of Cape Town with model Lesala Mampa.

“The editorial was inspired by the rich prints, textiles and the artistic flair I saw on the runways of SA Menswear Week and Cape Town Fashion week. The amazing African prints and textures on show took my love for prints to the next level.For the shoot I created wearable and attainable looks.“

“I always aim to educate my readers about ‘how to wear prints’ and the art of wearing ‘print-on-print’. I chose the UCT upper campus because of the negativity that has surrounded the campus of late… I saw it as a way of highlighting the greatness that still lives among those trees and walls,” says Reddy.

Also always try to keep the garments within their natural beauty as far as possible without losing the essence of the design and the location we’re shooting at,” he says.

Photo by by Mark Manual May

Photo by by Mark Manual May

The Boy on the Park Bench is the story of a boy sitting on the park bench observing his surroundings and sharing what he sees, explains Reddy, a Varsity College Pretoria graduate.

“I started the blog in 2010 as a way of expressing how I felt during a trying time of finding my feet in Cape Town and my chosen career path. It was a cold winter day and I was sitting in a park around the corner from my then flat in the southern suburbs.

“I decided that it was time for me to express myself and share my thoughts as a way of ‘dealing’ with what I was going through.

“I made the conscious decision to use it (blogging) as a way of expressing my honest opinion on fashion, the industry and its ever-changing dynamics that I get to experience first-hand on a daily basis. I blog for those who appreciate it but don’t have the time or resources to actively be a part of it,” Reddy says.

Describing himself as a braveheart because he is not afraid to take risks and to go where where others are too scared to go, the 28-year-old Reddy’s love for the creatives started at a young age.

“My parents always ensured we looked good and never skimped on buying my siblings and I the best clothes. I always appreciated new shoes and the opportunity to get all dressed up and to show off amongst my peers. At around age 9 I already knew the importance of a crisp white shirt and what it could do for your school uniform and any outfit in-general;” he says

Shiraz Reddy

Shiraz Reddy

“I’ve always enjoyed styling myself, planning outfits with my sisters and friends days before wearing them… I still do this to this day,” he says.

Reddy is inspired by photographers Trevor Stuurman and Theodore Afrika’s ability to capture beautiful imagery, as well as recording artist and producer Pharrell Williams’s sense of style and work within the fashion industry.

His list of notable fashion designers include Mzukisi Mabane of Imprint, Adriaan Kuiters, Craig Port and hip hop artist Kanye West.

“They push the envelope to spite stereotypes. I am also inspired by nature… how letting something grow organically can turn into a beautiful living thing. And the streets of Cape Town, how people here aren’t afraid to express their creative personalities through fashion,” says Reddy.

Photo  by Mark Manual May

Photo by Mark Manual May

One of the key things to making it as a creative in South Africa is to stay true to yourself, he says.

“Being adventurous when no one trusts you and trusting your own gut will go a long way. “Also, it’s not easy to get individuals and  brands to invest in your creativity because most are influenced by international trends and many are reluctant to help you pioneer new trends and ways of doing things;

“These for me are definite challenges. However, sticking to your guns, working like a beast and not forgetting the struggles and what you want to achieve and, that if you don’t do the work, no one else will, should lead you to maintaining a successful creative career.”

Photo by Mark Manual May

Photo by Mark Manual May

His message for aspiring fashion stylists is: “Never doubt yourself because then the client and team will doubt you too. Trial and error is okay… learn to accept mistakes but do your research well in advance and as detailed as possible… because God is in the detail.”

●Reddy’s blog link: https://theboyontheparkbench. wordpress.com

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on October 9 2015