The sixth annual eThekwini Municipality Durban Fashion Fair came to an end with the prestigious Durban Fashion Fair Recognition Awards evening held at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Saturday, August 26. The event was a glamorous one featuring an evening of music and fashion hosted by Gagasi FM’s Collen Zondo and Top Billing presenter, Ayanda Thabethe.
The most prestigious award of the evening was the Durban Designer of the Year 2017, which was awarded to award winning Durban designer, Terrence Bray.
Bray, who has played a big role in mentoring young and emerging designers through the years at the DFF, was born and raised in Durban and launched his own label in 1998. Over the years, he has built his career and brand to the point where he is now an internationally recognised designer.
The success of Terrence Bray is based on a firm and distinctive design philosophy – to strive for the best quality and design possible at that moment. This year’s collection, dedicated to his father, featured strong tailoring elements in bold black and white.
The second big award of the evening was the Durban Fashion Legend 2017 which is based on nominations from within the local fashion industry. This was awarded to Lindiwe Khuzwayo. This veteran designer and couturier of 30 years and successful business woman has been a role model for many. Her creations have graced both local and international runways in Marseilles, France and Cannes. Khuzwayo founded the Lindiwe Khuzwayo Fashion Design Studio and Lindiwe Khuzwayo Academy of Fashion in 1986. The academy was in line with her vision of supporting and actively promoting and empowering the youth which she is very passionate about.
Business support programme manager, Sindi Shangase, whose vision and hard work has made the Durban Fashion Fair a much anticipated annual event on the city’s calendar, congratulated all award winners and pointed out that both the acceptance speeches and the hard work that had gone into getting each and every collection on the DFF 2017 runway had once again proven that fashion goes way beyond glitz and glamour.
“This year’s theme, Dawn of the Arts, is about the reawakening of the creative industry and realization of the arts as a lucrative business opportunity. It also recognises the different arts within our multi-talented city and shows how they can all inspire each other and work together. The DFF is evidence of this. Six years into the journey, the DFF has gone from a single night event of just six shows featuring 12 designers to a four-day event featuring over 40 designers, including specially invited creative’s from the African continent,” she said.
At the award event, Shangase thanked all who had believed in the DFF and contributed towards making it the success story it is today. “This includes the established designers who have participated and advised us, the many professionals who have assisted, big retail brands, sponsors and, most importantly, the many people working behind the scenes handling lighting, sound, choreography, hair, catering and more.”
After much deliberation regarding the high standard of fashion that took to the 2017 DFF catwalk, the independent judge’s decision for all the categories were made up of former YOU magazine fashion director and now creative director of CHULAAP, Chu Suwannapha; the founder of G&D Apparel, Greg Wallis, Drum Fashion editor, Peta-lee Matjaola and Themba Mthethwa who is the Regional Operations Manager for Markham jointly concluded that one such designer is Zama Mathe, the lead designer of Zarth, who was awarded the Collection of the Week award for a collection that once again displayed timeless, African inspired elegance and femininity.
Founded in 2009, Zarth has evolved into a creative design house employing a fully qualified team of professionals. The fledgling brand made its DFF debut in 2013, earning Zama Mathe an internship to Milan, Italy. She has participated at the DFF every year since then and was awarded the prestigious DFF Designer of the Year title in 2016.
Another example is Mxolisi Luke Mkhize, who heads up House of Saint Luke which took home the Best Menswear Collection Award 2017.
Born and raised in Durban, Mkhize was selected for an internship in Milan in 2012 and has showcased at the DFF ever since. He also took home the Best Menswear Collection award at the inaugural awards event in 2015.
The Best Ladieswear Collection 2017 award went to Quiteria & George. Quiteria Kekana and George Malelu, one of the most talked about design pairings of late, showcased their bold African prints and elegant designs, for the second time at the DFF this year.
The Best African Collection went to West African fashion brand Quame Owusu which is owned by Ghanian designer, Samuel Owusu. This was his first showing on the DFF ramp.
This year’s Fashion Innovator Award, which goes to designers who push the boundaries and embrace technological innovation, went to Martin John Steenkamp while the Emerging Designer of the Year 2017 was self-taught designer, Muzi Innocent Mlambo of Mita-N Dzyns.
Four years ago, the DFF introduced a model search, providing an opportunity for youngsters from disadvantaged communities to not only get themselves on the DFF ramp but also to begin to build a modelling career.
This year’s New Face of the Year (ladies) was Amanzimtoti’s Samantha Jali who is currently studying shipping and logistics, while the New Face of the Year (men) was 26 year-old Samkelo Shinga from Umlazi.
Independent Media walked off with the Fashion Business Award and Athenkosi Mfungula, Claudia Novuka and Leona Pillay were recognised as the 2017 rising stars from the Mentorship Programme which is an initiative developed by the eThekwini Municipality to grow the fashion industry in the city and to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young designers and assist them with skills relating to the business of fashion!