The young de­signer, who rev­els in break­ing the rules, gives us some in­sight into his lat­est col­lec­tion and look­book

Sunday Times - - Fashion - TEXT: NOTHEMBA MKHONDO

Where did your fash­ion jour­ney be­gin?

I can’t re­mem­ber the mo­ment I de­cided I would do fash­ion for­ever, but I do re­mem­ber sell­ing pa­per clothes for my friend’s pa­per dolls in pri­mary school. I stud­ied art in high school and then went back to fash­ion be­cause it felt like the most nat­u­ral and ex­cit­ing thing to me.

What is the Nao Serati aes­thetic?

It is strength, glit­ter, non-bi­nary, and sto­ry­telling, and it’s gen­er­ally dis­rupt­ing the norm.

Tell us about your new col­lec­tion

The new col­lec­tion is work from my heart. I’m re­ally work­ing hard to mean what I say and say what I mean. So with this col­lec­tion, I stud­ied and worked hard to bring back the things that made me love fash­ion. How the clothes move was the key for me.

What in­spired the col­lec­tion?

The show was about an­ces­tral spir­its and how spirit doesn’t care what gen­der you are, you just come as you are for them to use you. I wanted the show to high­light a side of South Africa’s gen­der con­ver­sa­tion we have never dis­cussed.

What is your cre­ative process?

I nor­mally get an idea, do ba­sic re­search and check if I’m re­ally in­ter­ested. All of a sud­den it’s two weeks be­fore the show and I go straight into pat­terns and do sketches, only to show my team what I’m think­ing in real life. My friends and I will nor­mally then have a styling party a few days be­fore the show.

What is the story be­hind your new look­book? It was a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Ta­tenda Chiodora, Galerekwe Maimane and me, and the story is a love story. It’s about the good guy and the bad girl. Love doesn’t win in this story.

Who is the Nao Serati con­sumer?

Firstly, my cus­tomer does not like to be gen­dered. They love fash­ion; they don’t like rules and that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean they want to look like punks but they do love to fight the norm. They are strong.

What are you try­ing to ex­press with your de­signs?

As a young de­signer, I’m try­ing to ex­press to the South African con­sumer that high-street fash­ion is wear­able and should be sup­ported and bought with an open heart.

What’s it like work­ing in the South African fash­ion in­dus­try?

The lo­cal fash­ion in­dus­try needs team­work. Ex­ter­nal fund­ing is hard to get so I would like to think that if we all work to­gether to get the things we want, and stand by the things we need, we would all get much fur­ther.

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