Gold prom dresses

As the year comes to a close, we invited style lovers to share their most memorable fashion moments

My moment is how genderless fashion shot up with its refreshingly spacious silhouette. I love easy movement in clothing, and knowing that I can shop for whatever, whether it’s wide turn-up trousers, tunics, or oversized shirts, because it’s so inclusive. Also, South African designers such as Chu Suwannapha and Rich Mnisi gave a very artistic interpretation of audacious styles, which are also referred to as street.

I love the messages surrounding fashion, where designs are a reflection of the current culture, which serves as a great impulse to buy – so timeously with the rising of gender activism.

My biggest fashion moment was the release of Manthe Ribane’s song and video with Okzharp, Dear Ribane. A creative force, she has finally merged all her skills to create this visual delight. Ribane has crafted her style – a mix of vintage, traditional, modern, street wear and Afropunk – perfectly, and has incorporated her incredible vogueing skills and voice to create this video, which is most definitely only the start of something phenomenal. It’s a revolutionary first for South Africa!

The excitement is palpable: picturing a collection based on one’s moodboard, vision and storytelling is one thing; seeing it coming live’ on a model is another. The gap is wide between 2D sketches painted in colours that will ultimately pop differently in real life than on a computer screen, and tangible clothes that need to fit one’s body, move with it and fall in the right place. Talent, creativity, strong design skills and a distinct flair for what will soon be in the air is required, as well as a clear understanding of garment construction and textile handling.

This year again, the competition was fierce and as the number of applications almost doubled (from 85 in 2014 to 155, with Gauteng entries jumping from 23 to 46), so did the variety in visions, storytelling, and, of course, collections presented. After the first round of judging, eight finalists were selected.

For this round ofjudging, only four garments needed to be fully completed while the rest (another four silhouettes) were still a work-in-progress; it would take more time and efforts before they can make it to the final show. Iconic editor and empress of fashion’ Diana Vreeland once said that the eye has to travel'; throughout the day, thanks to the creative knack of the young designers behind the collections, we travBlogd from the comfort of loungewear or knitted shorts paired with tulle tops with embroidered flowers, to the eccentricity of satin bows clashing with exaggerated epaulettes, billowing sleeves and tight corsets. It was a festival of personalities: here a free-spirited woman a la Anna Piaggi circa 2010; there,

picturing a collection based on one’s moodboard, vision and storytelling is one thing; seeing it coming live on a model is another’ an independent, edgier, rock-meets-goth woman dressed in deep black and floor-length sleeves. Here the softness and charm of a girl ready to lounge; there, the pop-ness of a modern cheerleader.

While we were seduced by the audacity of some of the ranges and the explosion of colours and textures of the others, it was the overall construction, the translation of the sketches into reality, the attention to detail and, of course, the originality and uniqueness of one’s collection that finally drove our choices.

The focus of the competition has always been and will remain on youth development; our hope is to empower fashion design students and celebrate their talent, energy and uniqueness. After a day of deliberations, we selected six finalists who, we thought, embodied that spirit; together, they will participate in the final show, which will see the crowning of this year’s winner. Cara Geach, Daisie Jo Grobler, Bianca Messina, Siyabonga Ntini, Blunke

Janse van Rensburg and Hamza Guelmouss will all be presenting their collections on 25 November, in Johannesburg’s Hyde Park Corner.

As the lights dimmed and the studio was embraced by darkness, the garments, waiting to be couriered back to their designers, hung on the rails like frail silhouettes. As we were stepping back into the real world, they reminded us of the stories they tell: between the lines, the stitches, the hesitations, they offered words of hope and conviction, of hard work and determination. And while there will only be one winner, there is no doubt that, this year again, there will be many beautiful tales to tell and savour.

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