How to be a fashion designer

South African and Design School South Africa lecturer Zanné de Meillon shares her recent fashion endeavour.

Zanné de Meillon has recently returned from a Los Angeles trip where she was contracted to style two photo shoots and three music videos for the US band 7th Ave.

How did you come to choose fashion as a career?

Since I was a small child I would sketch outfits and my mom would make them for me. As a teenager I found it difficult to find clothing in stores that I liked and fit me well, so I was continuously trying to convince my mom to make me something.

Even after all of this, it never occurred to me that fashion was a career path I would want to pursue. Only later while I was busy with my legal studies did the penny finally drop.

My book bag broke and since I was a poor student I didn't have money to buy a new one, so I bought one metre of curtain fabric and made myself a book bag.

A fellow student admired the bag and I made one for her. I quickly began sewing bags and outfits for anyone who was willing to pay me and this soon developed into a little business.

fashion designer

The 7th Ave photo shoot was styled by Zanné de Meillon. Credit: Jeremy Lewis

Tell us a bit about the celebrities you've worked with and what you learnt from that process?

Most recently I have worked with the band 7th Ave, consisting of Chris Rupp, Tristin Rupp, Adam Bastien and Kelley Jakle of Pitch Perfect fame.

I learnt that we are all just people trying to do our jobs to the best of our abilities.

Being able to work with people who are so dedicated and passionate about what they do, is highly motivating and inspiring.

The 7th Ave photo shoot was styled by Zanné de Meillon. Credit: Jeremy Lewis

Why do you love fashion?

It is functional art.

Fashion is not a painting on a wall that just hangs there and you have to stare at it to appreciate it. You can actually climb into it and become part of the art piece.

You can admire it with your eyes, feel it on your skin, you can make it move and move with it and it even has practical functions such as keeping you warm or preserving your modesty in public.

fashion designer

A close-up of jean back pocket. Credit: Mark Stanley-Adams

Do you believe that fashion can be done on a budget?

Wearing expensive clothes does not mean a person is well dressed or is fashionable. I also don't believe fashion can be restricted to one specific style or look.

To me, being fashionable is dependent on three things:

1. If the clothing fits well

2. If it represents who you are as a person

3. If it makes you feel confident

If your clothing meets these three criteria, then you are fashionable.

Whether you bought the garments from a boutique on Rodeo Drive, borrowed them from granny's closet, or bought them at Pep Stores, is irrelevant. How they make you feel is what matters and that is fashion.