CityPress - - News - PRE­CIOUS MAVUSO pre­cious.mavuso@city­press.co.za

En­tre­pre­neur Mamello Yona caught the at­ten­tion of many view­ers when he ap­peared on the SABC’s Morn­ing Live Sun­day edi­tion three weeks ago. And not only the good kind of at­ten­tion.

He was there to pro­mote a first-ofits-kind fash­ion event he calls the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) Fash­ion Show. He said he would show­case 25 young de­sign­ers at the fa­mous down­town art gallery in a se­ries of ramp shows to be held on Mon­days.

But this week the gallery wrote to him to tell him to stop us­ing its name – and Ghana­ian de­signer Mina Evans com­plained that the SABC used an im­age of her work to pro­mote the shows, which she has noth­ing to do with.

The fash­ion in­dus­try raised its eye­brows too, with sev­eral fash­ion de­sign­ers warn­ing of the ex­ploita­tion of young de­sign­ers who pay to ap­pear in shows.

In a meet­ing with City Press to hear his side of the story, Yona ad­mit­ted he had no his­tory in the fash­ion in­dus­try and con­firmed that he was charg­ing young de­sign­ers R3 500 each to show their work. This, he said, was to cover the costs of stag­ing the shows.

He was still hope­ful of hold­ing the first show to­mor­row, but couldn’t pro­vide a full list of the de­sign­ers show­ing, the names of spon­sors in­volved or even an ex­pe­ri­enced crew to stage the event. He said he didn’t want to talk about the pro­ducer he had been work­ing with – who is no longer in­volved in the pro­ject – and said he would pro­duce the show him­self. Asked if he has any ex­pe­ri­ence pro­duc­ing fash­ion shows, the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try en­tre­pre­neur said: “No, but I have been to many fash­ion shows and I know what I’m do­ing.”

Asked why the shows had been post­poned, he said: “So far, I have only about 12 de­sign­ers ready to show­case their de­signs, so I’m still wait­ing for the others to be ready.”

Ap­proached for com­ment, JAG reg­is­trar Tara We­ber con­firmed that Yona had been in dis­cus­sions about hir­ing the venue, which is owned by the city and has a man­date to raise rev­enue for the city from venue hire. She said the gallery sent Yona an in­voice, which he did not pay.

“The events will def­i­nitely not go ahead,” she said, “not only due to the fact that the in­voice was not paid and the con­tract not signed”, but that she was wary that there was the po­ten­tial to de­fraud young de­sign­ers.

“JAG did not give out nam­ing rights – in fact, it was spec­i­fied that we do not do this un­less the mu­seum is a part­ner,” she said.

She also told City Press that she had sent a let­ter to the SABC to re­quest the re­moval of the in­ter­view clip from YouTube. The clip is still on­line, though, and the SABC did not ac­knowl­edge or re­spond to City Press ques­tions about the mat­ter at the time of go­ing to print.

Speak­ing from Ghana, Evans said: “The Mina Evans brand is in no way con­nected to or even aware of this event. There was no com­mu­ni­ca­tion ei­ther on per­mis­sion to use an im­age of our gar­ment as pub­lic­ity.”

Yona in­sisted it was the broad­caster that used the im­age of her work and that he did not pro­vide it. He was hurt when asked if he was harm­ing the in­dus­try with a ques­tion­able event and in­sisted he “saw a gap in the mar­ket” and that all he wanted to do was to help pro­mote young de­sign­ers. Later in the week he said he would find a new gallery to

stage the shows.


OUT OF FASH­ION Mamello Yona, the en­tre­pre­neur be­hind the art gallery fash­ion shows

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