Tlale’s tribute to Mandela
MARKING CENTENARY: 100 MODELS, 100 LOOKS
Sartorial masterpieces representing the icon’s impact.
By Kaunda Selisho
To close last week’s Africa Fashion International week, designer David Tlale showcased his biggest collection yet featuring 100 models and 100 looks. As the runway show coincided with the centenary of stuggle icon and former president Nelson Mandela, Tlale chose to commemorate this once in a lifetime occasion with a major show. Apart from the annual fanfare at the opening of parliament, fashion isn’t always thought of in conjunction with politics and Tlale said this needed to change. “People think politics and fashion are detached, but my take is that politics and fashion go hand-in-hand, whether it’s the political party’s uniform or people going to any organisation’s meeting, they need clothing and people never see clothing as fashion,” he said.
He said that he would like to see people change their perceptions about ordinary clothing as this would help to remind them of the importance of the textile industry, which he referred to as “a huge economic force”.
Using his exceptional skills, Tlale’s show drew from many aspects of Madiba’s life to create sartorial masterpieces worthy of Mandela’s impact.
Tlale said he wanted to do his part to ensure people celebrated this moment in time because there might not be another centenary celebration of such a hero for South Africans.
One of the aspects of Madiba’s life that Tlale drew on was his desire to see young people’s lives changed for the better.
The catering for the show was done by culinary students and aspiring designers, who were also given the opportunity to assist backstage to get some experience in the industry. The designer took the audience on a journey, starting with the 27 years Madiba spent in prison and transitioning into the post-1994 era. Tlale also shared his thoughts on set design in South Africa.
“The creative industry as a whole is still evolving and set design in South Africa hasn’t really taken off as it has on the international stage.
“In terms of fashion, it’s all about the narrative you want to share as a designer and what your creation requires,” he explained.
He said designers compensated for this by putting a lot of thought into the spaces they chose to showcase their collections.
He shared how excited he was about the location of his show at the abandoned Carlton Centre Sky Rink which has been transformed into a space called Sky Rink Studios. The space was large enough to allow him to interact with those attending the show.
My take is that politics and fashion go hand-in-hand