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. 



The Ruff Tung legacy lives on through a designer duo.

It has been almost two years since fashion designer Jean-Paul Botha died at age 43. Botha, the founder and creative director of the Ruff Tung label, was one of the country’s most sought-after fashion designers in the ’90s, whose creative talent saw him develop his brand from an edgy label to a high fashion house that enjoyed appearances at several major fashion weeks across the country.

But then the Durban-born designer’s death left a huge gap in the fashion industry. Fast forward to today and Botha’s Ruff Tung legacy lives on through the talented designer duo, Bridget Pickering and Ludwig Bausch. Last month, the fashion house staged their first runway showcase – since Botha’s death – at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT).

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

We interviewed Pickering and Bausch at their office in Kenilworth. Mentored by Botha, Pickering started out in the industry as a story board designer for a trims and accessory business.

“I played on the edge of fashion in my early years, but I became serious about my career once I moved to London. My first role was for the iconic store Liberty where I was introduced to the world of incredible designs,” she says.

For Bausch, a Durban University of Technology fashion and textile design graduate, his first job in fashion was as Botha’s pattern maker. Now at the helm of what was his creation, the designers described their MBFWCT showcase as a “defining moment “ for the brand.

“The show was our official launch as a local Cape Town brand and more importantly as a tribute to Botha,” says Pickering

“We received an emotional standing ovation, proving that Botha’s creative legacy and DNA lives on through our continued hard work and in every design element of our collection,” she adds.

The talented designer duo, Bridget Pickering and Ludwig Bausch. Picture by SDR Photo

The talented designer duo, Bridget Pickering and Ludwig Bausch. Picture by SDR Photo

What were your inspirations for your SS16 collection? Our collection titled Mirror Mirror on the wall – Reflections has inspired our passion for print on print this SS16 season. A simple silhouette viewed “through the looking glass” to create multiple angles to dress multiple shapes, the designs offer women a dynamic balance between looking effortless, comfortable and stylish all in one piece. We have specifically developed our own prints for this collection, creating an inspirational visual feast through a kaleidoscope of shapes – an eclectic mix of monochrome, directional print blocking and always a bolt of vibrant colour. Simplicity is always the focus in our designs, creating a modern energy for the modern Ruff Tung woman.

How did you select the materials and colours? Our past and present has had a long love affair with statement prints. Tamarind Textiles came to the rescue with some beautiful prints exclusive to Ruff Tung. A strong design trait of ours is to colour and print block to create a flattering silhouette for our women. We believe that our prints and statement colour, deep cobalt, will set us apart from our competitors and make us the go to brand for woman of all shapes and sizes.

Describe the woman you envision wearing your clothes? Our designs, like the woman we dress, are ageless. The Ruff Tung women have busy lives, they want to have fun while looking good. Effortless and no fuss styling is key and our modern Ruff Tung woman appreciates this. We sell frocks, casual sophistication, easy-to-wear fashion and classic with a contemporary twist.

Who are your most influential fashion designers, and why? Our current influential designers are American fashion stylist Rachel Zoe for her effortless style, designer Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) for her business prowess and longevity, London’s leading retail marketing consultant Mary Portas for her ability to dress “real women” and Victoria Beckham for being a late fashion bloomer and taking the fashion world by storm.

Ruff Tung Lookbook

Ruff Tung Lookbook

What is your opinion on “high fashion” and do you aspire to becoming a popular high-end fashion label? We would love to be popular and be the go-to designer brand.

“Our aim would be to provide the combination of an affordable ready-to-wear collection, plus a “high end” more exclusive offering for those special luxury pieces.”

You have quite big shoes to fill: how do you ensure that the label still represents Jean-Paul Botha’s legacy? We have registered the business as “Tribute by Ruff Tung”, so not only are we a daily working tribute to the man who opened the fashion doors and gave us this opportunity, but we are working to achieve all the goals and aims that we agreed to as a team before he passed away.

Botha and ourselves started to streamline the business from a niché occasion wear brand to a more retail commercial business and this is what we will continue to do.

“We design with an honest approach to what women want.”

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

What can be done to encourage people to buy local or support local designers?
We don’t feel that the average consumer knows how many talented local designers are out there. Local fashion publications need to promote local more… it would be amazing to see a larger variety of local brands in the press.

There is a place for both local and international brands, but the more we support local, the more positive the impact on local manufacturing industry.

What trends do you currently see in the fashion industry?

“The current trends include the boho look and we are seeing a lot of off-the shoulder action, jumpsuits, as well as statement prints.”

What are your future plans for the brand? We will continue to build on our business, branching from E-tail into more retail opportunities. There is a demand for effortless, chic plus-size styles and we are all about dressing women across the fashion board.

What advice do you have for other aspiring fashion designers?

“This fashion business is not for sissies, so get a good background in business and a good mentor who will show you the business from the ground up.”

●Ruff Tung is sold at online shops E-Tail, Spree and Zando, and several shops nationwide such as The Bromwell.

This feature first was first published in the Cape Argus on September 29 2015. 

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT) 2015 Trends Report

Tuelo Nguyuza By SDR Photo

Tuelo Nguyuza By SDR Photo

Flirty and feminine dresses and skirts in bold colours are back, and women will find themselves renewing their relationship with neon, eye-popping brights this spring and summer.

Designers Danielle Margaux, Habits and Lazuli led the colour revolution at a fashion event held in the city at the weekend. Their designs came in crop-tops, jumpsuits, kimono-style dresses and boho gypsy skirts. Another trend, as seen on the international runways, is wearing sneakers with dresses, skirts and suits, and presentations by local designers Adriaan Kuiters, Jody Paulsen and Leigh Schubert showed us how to get the trend just right. Kuiters and Paulsen’s collection, inspired by the artistic patterns of David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and Sol Lewitt, presented an impressive sportsluxe collection of soft, neutral and bold prints paired with sneakers. Schubert paired romantic floral dresses with palladium sneakers.

Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen by SDR Photo

Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen by SDR Photo

Industry experts and fashionistas converged on the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed and North Wharf for the annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT).
Twenty-four of the country’s top designers unveiled their spring and summer 2016 collections with multiple shows over the three-day period.

The collections included a range of ready-to-wear pieces, sports wear and swimwear, as well as wedding couture.

Noticeable trends included shoulder-baring silhouettes, and prints and patterns such as stripes, lace, floral and African prints on everything from dresses to jumpsuits. 

David Tlale by SDR Photo

David Tlale by SDR Photo

The collections included arange of ready-to-wear pieces,sports wear and swimwear,as well as wedding couture.Other noticeable trendsincluded shoulder-baring silhouettes,and prints and patterns suchas stripes, lace, floral and African prints on everything from dresses to jumpsuits.

Highlights included the David Tlale showcase held on Saturday morning at the Gallery MOMO in Buitengracht Street.

The fashion guru launched his bridalcollection, combining sheer and see through silhouettes in powder blue, yellow, multi-coloured animal print and metallic emerald-green for the adventurous bride.

“We are breaking all the rules of the traditional bride, but we are still keeping it chic and bold. “People have been brainwashed to wear white dresses with your typical lace adorned with Swarovski crystals to look like Cinderella,” says Tlale.

“Launching bridal-wear was a natural progression as a brand. “We are known for high-end couture and beautiful ready-to-wear pieces and it’s time we started embracing our brides because we have had big business on bridal wear that we never launched,” he

David Tlale by SDR Photo

David Tlale by SDR Photo

Christiaan Gabriel du Toit of Klûk CGDT opted out of the traditional runway show, instead staging an exhibition at CAAM Collective Gallery at the De Waterkant Fringe.

The exhibition, KLuKCGD Tartisan, held in collaboration with Levi’s, includes photographic
prints by 10 of South Africa’s leading fashion photographers, among them: Trevor Stuurman, Sivan Miller, Neil Roberts and Simon Deiner. It runs until Saturday.

KLuKCGD Tartisan exhibition by SDR Photo

KLuKCGD Tartisan exhibition by SDR Photo

“This is a huge denim season and although it is something we toy with often, we have never really experimented with the options.

“We also wanted to show our clothes in a different way, something more lasting that allows the client to get a longer impression of the garments,” says Kluk.

“We chose the creatives based on our experience with them. “They are energetic
and passionate about what they do, they have been proactive in their careers and this excited us. “We also love the diversity in their work and personalities and it was important to let them shine,” he says.

Regarding the trends for the summer, Du Toit says that these are so diverse that they always take a southern hemisphere perspective on what is happening internationally.

“We take trends as a guide, not a bible. We know our customers and their lifestyle and their likes and dislikes and tailor the trends to suit them. “We love fabric and sometimes that dictates what we make.”

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on August 5 2015.

Stefania Morland by SDR Photo

Stefania Morland by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Marianne Fassler by SDR Photo

Lazuli by SDR Photo

Lazuli by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Imprint by SDR Photo

Here are a few backstage pictures by photographer Neil Roberts.I love his cool unique style. Visit www.nrm.me for more of his work. 

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Budding models get insight into fashion industry

Keegan Basil and Azola Bam wearing Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Keegan Basil and Azola Bam wearing Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen. Picture by Tracey Adams.

The life of a fashion model is often associated with the glitz and glamour of the industry, from dressing in designer wear to being beautified by makeup artists and hairstylist. However, not many outside the industry are aware of the hard work that takes place behind the scenes when organising a photo shoot or producing a runway show. Two budding Cape Town models were given the opportunity to experience the dynamics of the industry for a day. Keegan Basil, 23, and Azola Bam, 20, were treated to a model makeover after beating many hopefuls in a competition run by the Cape Argus, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT) and M.A.C. Cosmetics.

The three-day fashion week starts today at the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed and North Wharf. It is attended by the who’s who of the industry, including designers, buyers, media and fashion photographers.

The two winners will attend one of the shows as part of their prize. Basil and Bam started their day at 10am at the Boaston Society Lifestyle Space in Long Street where they were styled in Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane. Mbane will be presenting his SS16 collection on Saturday at 3pm. Basil was dressed in Boaston Society’s in-house brand, UNNNCD.

This was followed by a visit to the Adriaan Kuiters studio in Kloof Street where the winning pair were dressed in the latest Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen collection. Their Spring and Summer showcase is tonight at 9.30pm.

 M.A.C. Cosmetics resident senior artist Keagan Cafun applying makeup on Azola. Picture by Tracey Adams

M.A.C. Cosmetics resident senior artist Keagan Cafun applying makeup on Azola. Picture by Tracey Adams

The winners received a special make-up tutorial by M.A.C. Cosmetics resident senior artist Keagan Cafun, who gave them the latest on makeup tips and tricks. Basil’s experience was topped off with being taught how to walk the runway by one of the country’s best runway models, Jimi Owobo Ogunlaja of the Jimisterio Catwalk Academy. When it comes to making an impression on the catwalk, Basil was not too far off in achieving the perfect runway walk, says Ogunlaja.

“Basil is a natural at it. However, he needs to work on walking with a straight back posture and avoid swinging his arms.

“When it comes to walking down the catwalk, it’s important to keep your head and shoulders straight. The movement is from your waist to your thighs and don’t exaggerate. Always remember it’s not about you, it’s about the garment you are wearing… and that’s what determines a good runway model,”says Ogunlaja.

Jimi Owobo Ogunlaja of the Jimisterio Catwalk Academy teaching Keegan how to walk on the runway. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Jimi Owobo Ogunlaja of the Jimisterio Catwalk Academy teaching Keegan how to walk on the runway. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Our winners ended the day with a photoshoot at the V&A Waterfront. Reflecting on
their experience, the highlights for Basil, an actor and presenter of the KeeganBshow
on Hashtag radio, included the runway tutorial and wearing designer clothes.

“Having Ogunlaja teaching me how to strut down the runway was a highlight for me as he is one of the models I look up to. I’ve taken in everything that he told me,” says Basil.

Bam’s highlights included learning the ins-and-outs of applying makeup. “I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given. I valued the experience, especially since I am still new in the industry.

“I got to learn about local designers and the backstage life,” says Bam, a student and model signed with casting agency Almost Famous.

●Ticket prices for the Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week Cape Town are R100 to R250. For tickets and more information on shows, go to: Webtickets (www.webtickets.co.za)

Azola wearing Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Azola wearing Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Keegan wears a top by Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulse. His pants is supplied by Boaston Society in-house brand UNNNCD. Picture by Tracey Adams

Keegan wears a top by Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulse. His pants is supplied by Boaston Society in-house brand UNNNCD. Picture by Tracey Adams

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on July 30 2015.

The evolution of the ‘Madiba Shirt’

Designers of ‘Presidential Shirts’, Logan Rodrigeuz and founder Desré Buirski with their new Madiba collection that received a standing ovation at the SA Menwear Week.  PICTURE BY TRACEY ADAMS

Designers of ‘Presidential Shirts’, Logan Rodrigeuz and founder Desré Buirski with their new Madiba collection that received a standing
ovation at the SA Menwear Week. PICTURE BY TRACEY ADAMS

The year was 1994, right after South Africa’s first democratic elections, when Desré Buirski first set eyes on Nelson Mandela at a synagogue in Sea Point. When Mandela delivered his speech that Saturday, urging the Jewish community to ask their relatives who had left the country during apartheid to come back home with the skills they had obtained, to help rebuild the country… it was as if he was talking directly to her, she says.

For Buirski’s family and many others had left apartheid South Africa in the the late ’80s in pursuit of a better life overseas. Buirski had brought a special gift for Mandela as a small gesture to wish him success in his new role as president. The present, wrapped and tucked under her arm, was an extra large cotton printed shirt labelled “Desré’s Exotic Imports” from her LA boutique she had just closed before leaving for South Africa.

“I approached his entourage and knocked on the driver’s window. He (the driver) didn’t even hesitate, he popped out of the car and signalled over to a bodyguard who took the gift and popped it in the boot… I thought I had achieved my dream that day because not only did I get to see Mandela but I also got the opportunity to give him a gift. I left there on a high note.

“I didn’t think it was that great a shirt, but I figured a gift is better than no gift. I expected Mandela to wear the shirt as a pyjama top or to give it away as a present,” she said.

But little did Buirski know that two days after the synagogue visit, the day after Mandela’s inauguration as president, her life was to take a different turn in ways she couldn’t have imagined.

“I was driving to the gym when I received a message from a friend telling me that there was a picture that I had to see in Die Burger newspaper. I thought it had to do with an environmental project I was working on;

“But there it was on page three, this beautiful photograph of Mandela wearing my shirt, and it still had all the wrinkles from the wrapping,” explains Buirski.

Soon after making contact with Mandela’s then typist and private secretary Mary Mxadana, Buirski started sending Mandela more shirts.

“Mxadana and I developed this rapport and… I started sending her more shirts for Mandela. That was the beginning of what I call my spiritual journey with Madiba,” says Buirski.

picture by SDR Photo

picture by SDR Photo

It is also how the story of the Presidential Shirt, fondly known as the “Madiba Shirt” began – a style and design of shirt that would become one of the most recognised across the world.

After studying graphic design in Southern California, SA-born Buirski pursued a successful career in fashion that led to her owning a boutique as well as working in clothing factories in Indonesia, where she learnt the Batik technique.

“My early influences came from my South African roots. I was very attracted to the Ndebele prints and graphics. I am still very drawn to their bold use of colour and the beading of the Zulus.

“Living in Southern California and getting involved in the industry there exposed me to the Hawaiian prints. That is when I became interested in printed men’s shirt.

“When I grew up in SA, men were not wearing bold shirts, they were very conservative. But I found that with men’s shirts I could play around with fabric and colour. Meshed together, my SA roots with my Hawaiian and the Indonesian influences became a melting pot of creativity for me,” says Buirski.

But Southern California was not home, so Buirski closed shop and returned to South Africa, opening her first local boutique, “Bali Blue” at the V&A Waterfront
in 1992.

“There was something about home that I was longing for and missing. As that longing started to emerge there was also this adoration that started to develop of this enigma about Mandela. I just wanted to meet this incredible man. I didn’t know that Madiba was a fashionista in his early days… it was certainly not a case of ‘I’m going to clothe that man one day’,” she explains.

Picture by SDR Photo

Picture by SDR Photo

Buirski got to meet Mandela almost a year after gifting him that first shirt. At the meeting, he suggested that she upgrade his shirts from cotton to silk.

“That was when the silk shirt-era began. Madiba had an entire collection of rainbow silk shirts, his favourite colours being earth tones. Over the years I made over 150 shirts for him. He literally wore them to all major events and to big international governmental meetings and banquets,” she says.

Not everyone was a fan of Mandela’s shirts. Mandela confided to Buirski that one of his close friends, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu felt his shirts were not appropriate attire for a president. And that Italian designer Giorgio Armani was quite perturbed that he was not wearing any of the well-tailored suits he had sent him.

“Madiba told me that he loved the shirts because they gave him a sense of freedom, as opposed to being in a suit and tie. Not only was he a fashion trendsetter, but he was also political trendsetter. He did things that society had never seen before,” says Buirski.

picture by SDR Photo

picture by SDR Photo

I meet Buirski at the Presidential Shirt studio in Observatory where their new collection, “The Eclection” is on display, designed by a creative team, including Logan Rodrigeuz.

The collection, fresh from the SA Menswear Week runway, is a miscellany of patterned batiks, handpainted silk, digital and isishweshwe prints. The showcase received a standing ovation at the event.

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The pictures are by SDR Photo

“Designing the debut collection has been an incredibly humbling experience because it’s such an incredible brand to work for. Not only is it an incredible brand, but there is rich history behind it… moments that were seen worldwide,” says Rodrigeuz, a fashion design graduate.

The collection was designed with today’s modern, stylish man in mind, he

“When the company started in 1994 everything was comfort fit and very relaxed for men of all shapes and sizes. With the new collection we wanted to approach the younger crowd, the businessman that wants to wear a sharp suit to the office but still have a Presidential Shirt underneath. Many garments are available in slim fit.

“The Presidential Shirt man is strong, a man who knows that when he puts on our clothing that there is a story behind it. A man that understands who he is, wants to be associated with the brand and who appreciates the craftsmanship that goes into each garment,” says Rodrigeuz.

Presidential Shirt will be opening a new shop at Mandela Square in Sandton, Joburg in October.

“It’s been the experience of a lifetime,” says Buirski. “For me it wasn’t just about making shirts for Mandela but he also taught me many things, such as inspiring other people with my work and to embrace the spirit of Ubuntu.

“Hopefully, the shirts continue to tell a story of Madiba’s legacy… through the shirts I get to tell some of his stories and that is the beauty of it,” adds Buirski. 

picture by SDR Photo

picture by SDR Photo

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on July 22 2015.

Top African designers will be displaying their SS16 collections at the South Africa Menswear Week.


Fundudzi picture by SDR Photo 

Leading  African designers will be displaying their wares on and off the catwalk at the second South African Menswear Week (SAMW), the only menswearfocused fashion platform in Africa showcasing homegrown spring/summer (SS16) collections.

Over 28 African designers, including fashion labels from Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Angola, will present their SS16 collections from July 2 to 4 at the Cape Town Stadium. The designers who will present their creations in over 18 shows include FMBCJ by Craig Jacobs, Nguni Shades, Maxhosa by Laduma, Imprint by
Mzukisi Mbane, Lukhanyo Mdingi, Rich Mnisi and Projecto Mental from Angola.

Following a successful inaugural affair in February, one of the event’s organiser Simon Deiner says the event will feature a selection of new talent, as well as leaders of modern African design such as Laduma Ngxokolo and Orange Culture.

“SA Menswear Week is all about educating consumers to the sheer availability, quality, and design of local menswear against imported brands,” says Deiner.

“The focus of the event is to put viable, locally-made designs at the forefront of consumers… showing them that it is available, cost-effective and a real option.

“The shows will feature the best male models and world-class show production. We are excited about new elements, such as a trends presentation by Nicola Cooper, the young designers and the intern up-skilling programme, and things such as MAC and ghd showcasing the latest grooming trends,” says Deiner.

I spoke to three designers about their SS16 collections for the SAMW.

Jenevieve Lyons. Pic by SDR Photos.

Jenevieve Lyons. Pic by SDR Photos.

Jenevieve Lyons Cape Town-based designer

Tell us about your SS16 collection? Named Alabaster SS16, the collection draws on the minimal side of the brand with a clever use of print, texture and details. Zipped insets offer a morphed metamorphism on some garments, as well as extended lengths or shortened lengths as desired. While drawstrings tie the hoods to the anoraks, ribbing seams together sweater tops.

An interest is shown in sheer poly-cotton long length tees and shirts that are layered under and over garments. The collection sports a “warmer” colour palette – taking on the tonal values of granite: dark burnt orange, khaki, tobacco, toasted colours paired with cool whites, suited printed thick satins and seamen neoprenes – bonded and unbound. The materials were selected as they complement the season, lead themselves to interpreting different shapes and add texture as well as tonal values.

Jenevieve Lyons. By SDR Photos

Jenevieve Lyons. By SDR Photos

What was the inspiration behind the designs? Alabaster takes inspiration from the fine-grained texture found within golden brown granite, with often sparks of milky white texture in between. It is of this texture that a print was born that is emphasised throughout the collection. The collection speaks to the spring/summer season linking onto the misty sprigs of spring, with the use of smart minimal light layering and double and single layered anorak throughout.

How would you describe your collection in four words? Textured, minimal, tonal, and layered.

When and how did you first fall in love with fashion design? At a young age I fell in love with collecting “un-beautiful” and strange things; which then developed into a process of sketching these objects/ideas in different ways. I became interested in following a career in fashion as I saw it as a way to take my sketches to an actual tangible state and give them a functional purpose.

Describe the person you are designing for? Fashion-forward and fashion-conscious consumers.

Jenevieve Lyons by SDR Photo

Jenevieve Lyons by SDR Photo

The best spring/summer must-haves? An anorak.

What sets your brand apart from the others? The aesthetic that the brand carries: conceptual minimalism – garments are often built three dimensionally: inwards and outwards and the process of the brand reinterpreting the runway collections into prêt-a-porter ready to wear.

If you had the choice of all designers in the world to work with/for, who would that be?
This is a tough one. I’d choose to collaborate with a young upcoming designer such as Korean designer Byungmun Seo.

Does your brand reflect your personal fashion taste? Can you describe your
style? Both are minimally articulated.

What are your plans for the future? Continue on the process of growing the brand at a steady pace, tap into the physical in store retail space and installation, as well as complete my masters degree in fashion design at the fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp.

Kim Gush by SDR Photo

Kim Gush by SDR Photo

Kim Gush Joburg-based designer of label KIM/GUSH. 

Tell us about your SS16 collection? We are going back to basics – clean silhouettes and little fuss. Less is more after all, especially in summer.

What were your inspirations for the designs?
The simplicity of outlines and foundations.

How would you describe your collection in four words? Ghetto, fetish, sports luxe.

When and how did you first fall in love with fashion design? I’ve always been intrigued by film and while working in that industry my love for costume and clothing drew me closer to the fashion industry.

Describe the person you are designing for? Open-minded and confident individual with a need for luxurious, edgy and comfortable hybrid.

The best spring/summer must-haves? Luxury oversized tees and some bad-ass sneakers.

What sets your brand apart from the others? We all have a different story to tell.

If you had the choice of all designers in the world to work with/for, who would that be? Mentor – Master Yohji Yamamoto. Collaboration – Alexander Wang.

Does your brand reflect your personal fashion taste? Can you describe your style?
I love the ranges I create but I do not personally always wear them. You have to focus on your consumer and how you can deliver to their needs while sticking to your brand ethics and vision.

What are your plans for the future? Right now we want to make KIM/GUSH as accessible and available to the consumer as possible. Our online store will be up soon after SAMW and we are working on more tangible points of access across the country as well as globally.

We will also be adding some more women-focused garments amongst our collections to combine with the already androgynous garments we present at menswear weeks.


Abrantie The Gentleman by SDR Photo

Abrantie The Gentleman by SDR Photo

Designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Orange Culture. Pic is supplied.

Designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Orange Culture. Pic is supplied.

Adebayo Oke-Lawal Orange Culture, a Lagos, Nigeria-based fashion label.

Tell us about your upcoming SAMW SS16 collection? I am super excited to be a part of South Africa Menswear Week – celebrating men’s fashion in Africa.

My collection is battling the ideology of the African man – that stereotype which has always been a thing for my brand. We explore delicate sensual fabrics matched with light but sporty fabrics to execute our Orange Culture tale of the fisherman and his beautiful journey.

Orange Culture. The picture is supplied.

Orange Culture. The picture is supplied.

What were your inspirations for the designs? My inspiration was drawn from
the amazing fishermen I spoke to. Growing up I would see them fishing under the third mainland bridge in Lagos, dressed in the most stylish gear. I wanted to explore the beautiful journey of these men and their relationships.

How would you describe your collection in four words? Androgynous, light, sensual and Nigerian

When and how did you first fall in love with fashion design? When I was 10-yearsold and my teachers realised all my notebooks in school were covered with fashion sketches…Fashion helped me to find myself.

Describe the person you are designing for? I design for the modern day nomad who is not afraid to explore his feminine side, and who is in love with the idea of individuality. He loves clothes that tell a story… a story that breaks stereotypes.

The best spring/summer must-haves? Anything from the Orange Culture SS16collection and a smile.

What sets your brand apart from the others? My label is self-inspired. It represents my unique experiences and I feel that’s what makes it stand out – my story.

If you had the choice of all designers in the world to work with/for, who would that be? Karl Lagerfeld – to learn more about the business side of things, matched with his creativity. Does your brand reflect your personal fashion taste?

Can you describe your style? It does, my style is quite light but unique. I love exploring almost sensual silhouettes.

What are your plans for the future? To take over the world one step at a time, but, in the short-term, find a stockist in South Africa.

Orange Culture image by OBI SOMTO

Orange Culture image by OBI SOMTO

The SA Menswear Week takes place from July 2 2015  to the 4th. Tickets are available on WebTickets (www.webtickets.co.za) for selected shows. All ticket holders will have access to the blue carpet VIP fashion event taking place on Saturday, July 4. All shows will be streamed live and image galleries will be uploaded immediately to http://www.menswearweek.co.za

This feature first appeared in the Cape Argus on June 25 2015.

Hot styles to ward off the winter chill

picture by Bheki Radebe

picture by Bheki Radebe

Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean you have to drown yourself in unflattering layers of clothing or invest in a whole new wardrobe. Are you wondering which winter styles will not only keep you warm, but leave you looking stylish and fabulous? Here are four inspiring looks to get you through the long winter months in style.

Picture by Bheki Radebe

Picture by Bheki Radebe

Feebearing - Cape Town - 150617 - Winter Trends 2015/Cape Argus Lifestyle. REPORTER: NONTANDO MPOSO. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW.

Picture by Bheki Radebe 

Five essentials for your winter wardrobe

1. Invest in a good quality long black coat that will last you for many winter seasons. It is comfortable, warm and, most importantly, it immediately glams up any outfit.

2. From ankle boots to those in a knee-high slouchy style, boots are a must-have for your winter wardrobe. Wear them with tights, slim-fitting jeans or a shift dress. Guys, a tan ankle boot will go with just about anything in your wardrobe. Don’t just stick to black.

3. Hats are the ideal accessory to finish off any outfit. Cold-weather caps have evolved beyond the classic beanie and a wide selection of traditional hats are now on offer for both
women and men. From gentlemanly fedoras and flat caps to the women’s bucket hat, the right head-gear can make your overall outfit look more fashionable.

4. Layering black and grey remains one of the biggest trends, not just for the winter months but throughout the year. That being said don’t be afraid to add a pop of colour to brighten up your outfit.

5.Tweed is back in style and so are all those soft to the touch fabrics such as leather and fluffy wool coats to snuggle into. Tartan and animal prints are also a hit this winter, so don’t be afraid to explore.

Picture by Bheki Radebe

Picture by Bheki Radebe

The models, Shelton Chibanda and Carmen Van Wyk are wearing Woolworths SA and Jet Mart. Styling by Nontando Mposo and Shamiel Hagee.

This editorial was first published in the Cape Argus on June 19 2015.