The top three of the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award, presented by Durban Fashion Fair, (from left): Third place Pinkie Mthiyane (model) and Nazreen Paruk (designer), winner Luvuyo Shoba (model) Katekani Moreku (designer), second place Hlengiwe Queeneth Mdunge (designer) Bianca Khowa (model). Image: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

‘The Colour Of Magic’ came to life when students delivered creative, inspiring and skilled outfits using everything from from PVC to cable-ties at the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Awards last Saturday, July 1.

Three second year Durban University of Technology students, Katekani Moreku, Hlengiwe Mdunge and Nasreen Paruk, took the top spots in the competition.

Taking first place was Moreku, 25, who is studying towards his national diploma in fashion design. Originally from Wolverines village in Mpumalanga province, Moreku said, “I discovered my passion for creating design in high school when I realised that I'm so curious and eager to change people's appearances into the way I would like the world to perceive the human race.”

For the competition, Moreku designed a menswear carnival suit. “My inspiration came from the carnivals of yesteryear that have a limitless culture of colours. I took different colourful prints and coordinated them in order to exude one magical colour,” said Moreku.

Although Moreku said he is still finding his style, his tendency to mix rich bright colours in his designs is what stands out most in his garments. As for the future, Moreku said, “I hope, by God's grace, to live long enough to open all fashion production sectors, from yarn producing factories to retail, in South Africa.

Mdunge, 23, from Chesterville came second in the competition. At fifteen years old, Mdunge realised her love for design, “I used to sketch and hand sew things, but I never took it that seriously. I wanted to be an engineer,” she said.

Despite her inclination toward fashion, Mdunge studied civil engineering. “I didn’t finish my degree in engineering, it wasn’t working out. I came to realise, fashion had always been there in me. I’m passionate about it and it’s what comes naturally. I find myself doing it unintentionally,” she said.

The outfit entry was inspired by illusions. “It’s a high and low dress with a print of a face in front. When I heard the July theme, I looked into magic as an illusion to convey it,” she said..

Mdunge’s future aspirations include furthering her studies, interning under established designers and to one day venture into her own brand.

Taking third place, Paruk, 22, said, fashion was always something she wanted to pursue. “After a year of thinking I could be a biological scientist, fashion design just seemed like the obvious choice. When I started, I realised it was something that I was actually good at,” she said.

The outfit she designed was a printed dress with a detachable PVC over skirt that she screen printed herself.  “I was inspired by the illusions that magicians use to deceive and confuse the audience much like Optical art of the 1950s and 1960s which inspired the silhouette.  So I created something that was a sensory overload,” said Paruk.
Considering herself to be a  “modern structural designer”, Paruk said, “I like classic elements that have a very modern twist and that's what I aspire to design, something that's dramatic, different and shocking.”

Nothing is set in stone said Paruk, “The future is fluid at the moment but I hope to get the opportunity to further my studies internationally."