Africa Fashion International has a Fastrack programme to boost the careers of up-and-coming talent. Besides getting exposure at the recent AFI Fashion Week and getting mentorship opportunities, four were this year given a six-week internship at Foschini and at Cape Town design house, Kazak. Meet three of them.

Kyra-moon Halfpenny, 25, from Durban

Halfpenny was asked to submit storyboards to go into the running for AFI Fastrack on the strength of her collection at the Durban University of Technology’s final-year fashion show.

Previously, she was a finalist in a Sunflower Foundation competition which entailed designing a bandana to raise funds. She was also a finalist in the NWJ Bridal Fair and a semi-finalist in the Vodacom Durban July young designer category.

Her AFI Fashion Week collection was inspired by Bombay, India, and Africa, “as I always like to incorporate my South African roots into my collections”.

“I’m very into burgundy and golds at the moments. And denim,” she says.

Halfpenny says she designs streetwear clothing, tapping “sartorialism and Androgyny in mixing ladies and men’s silhouettes”.

She draws her inspiration from township lifestyle, nature and “New York City”, and uses photographic references to see how black South Africans use their materials.

Like her two Fastrack contemporaries, Moonpenny has big things in mind for her future. “I want to supply internationally, to get involved with the design councils and, of course, to dress influencial people.”

For now, though, she’s just “hoping to find a job in fashion”, she laughs.

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Wetive Lindokuhle Macia Nkosi, 25, from Joburg

Lindokuhle, who grew up in Mpumalanga, started designing and making her own clothes while studying industrial sociology at the University of Zululand.

It was when her creations started attracting the attention of other students that design became a way to make a living, and to express herself.

“While doing my masters in sociology, I decided to follow my heart, so I relocated to Joburg to pursue my studies in fashion at SEWAFRICA (a fashion college in the Joburg CBD),” she says.

She was selected for AFI Fastrack after winning the 2011 graduate fashion show at SEWAFRICA.

Her “baby yellow” and black frocks with faint tie-dye patterns drew rousing applause at AFI Fashion Week . “The yellow symbolises the enlightenment I received (from the six-week internship with Foschini prior to the show),” she says.

“The black serves as a reminder that in the absence of light there is darkness and I should always strike to be in the light in my fashion career. I used 100 percent white cotton and tie-dyed it.”

Lindokuhle says her Fastrack collection drew inspiration from African objects and instruments. Her dress adorned with thick roping for shoulders drew the most attention at the show.

Lindokuhle is hoping to become a successful designer, and got three orders for dresses after her showing.

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Kim Gush, 26, from Cape Town

Gush, who won the AFI Young Designer of the Year award, was a clear favourite at the show, with her Matrix-like collection of black coats, shirts and shawls for men.

The drama isn’t accidental, as Gush is trained in motion picture make-up and costume design.

She graduated last year from Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design in Stellenbosch. Through a selection of entries to the Cape Town Fashion Council, she was encouraged to put forward her ranges to the Fastrack programme.

Her collection, “In/Motion”, is a reference to “constantly moving forward, and through the twisted shapes and draped silhouettes, I aimed to evoke the feeling of a static being caught up in motion”, she says.

The grayscale colour palette used was inspired by a photo from 1900 taken during a science experiment in which the movement of air was studied, she says.

“The wave-like pintucks, draping and twisting of the knit fabrics create a plethora of movement, along with the twisted style lines of my leather work and knitwear. Both knitwear and leather are a strong influence in any of my collections.”

Gush now plans to bring her brand to the hands of those who are looking for something edgy and new, not only to the menswear market, but to women too.

“Kim Gush is a label with no sex, age or stereotype. It is to the wearer what they make of it,” she says.

* Contact her at - The Star