Style Star – Jan Malan
Fashion show director, Jan Malan, gives us a glimpse of his interesting life!
Who is Jan Malan?
I'm a director and producer at Umzingeli Productions and I've staged high-profile shows in 38 cities and four continents. I'm also the co-founder and creator of M-Net
Face of Africa Model Search that took me to 36 countries in Africa. I have a passion for promoting fashion and beauty on our continent.
Where were you born?
Keetmanshoop in Namibia.
How did you come up with the name, Umzingeli?
When I started scouting for models, I wanted my company name to resonate with what I do and believe in. I wanted the company to have the characteristics of an umzingeli, which means hunter-gatherer in isiXhosa, isiZulu and isiNdebele. My company searches for and nurtures beauty and fashion in Africa.
Do you remember your first gig as a director and producer?
It was the Jabavu Festival in Soweto held in the early 80s.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Creating and producing the concept of M-Net Face of Africa Model Search.
You work with a lot of models. Who are your five favourite models?
This is a difficult question to answer as there are so many! I've worked with some of the world's most sought-after models on my runways such as Karlie Kloss, Alek Wek, Liya Kebede, Behati Prinsloo, Maria Borges, Chanel Iman, Lara Stone, Coco
Rocha and Tyson Beckford, as well as legends such as Pat Cleveland and Grace Jones. Of course, a special mention goes to the first Face of Africa, Oluchi OnweagbaOrlandi, and my protégé Andiswa Manxiwa.
What are your future dreams and aspirations?
I'd like to see African fashion get a strong international presence, complete writing a book about my travels in Africa, and meet other amazing women on our continent and talk about the influence we've had on each other.
What inspires you?
The creativity of young entrepreneurs blows my mind. I'm fascinated by their new way of doing things. Names such as Trevor Stuurman, Tony Gum, Lady Skollie, Katlego Magano, Matte Nolim and Thebe Magugu come to mind.
Principles you live by...
I call it the Umzingeli way. It's all about integrity, openness, mindfulness, patience, showing empathy, being always ready to go the extra mile, and leaving your ego behind when you're doing something.
What drives you?
The fear of mediocrity, and the desire to see others succeed.
What's your definition of success?
Leaving a legacy.
In future, who would you like to work with and why?
I'd love to work with Iman. I've met her once or twice. She was the inspiration for M-Net Face of Africa Model Search.
If you're not busy putting together a show, what do you do for fun?
Music is my passion and I'm also obsessed with American politics. I try to explore that side of things when I'm free. My life revolves around my shows, and that's fun too!
You have a busy life, so how do you find time for family and friends?
I must admit, it's a challenge, but I have a supportive and understanding family.
What's the most memorable show you have produced?
I have too many highlights to select one. My favourite two are, The African Renaissance Face of Africa Finals in Cape Town held in 2000. It was a big and bold show. It really felt like we were on the threshold of greatness.
On the second production, I finally got to work with my biggest inspiration and muse, Grace Jones. It was for Arise Magazine at New York Fashion Week in 2009.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a production company?
Don't do it! (Only kidding). If you want to do this, you need to make a lot of sacrifices. You have to make peace with the fact that you won't have a normal family life and that you'll always be on the road. You'll have to kiss your weekends goodbye.
Patience must also become your biggest virtue. If you go into this with a big ego, you will fall flat on your face.
If you want to do this for the glamour, forget it. It's hard work behind the scenes, and serving other people will make you successful.
If you're still interested, take events management, public relations and financial management courses. Find someone you can intern with and learn from. You can't really “study” to do this.