Durban - Beautifully beaded fascinators, gowns making statements in bold prints and gentlemen donning traditional-wear, this year's Vodacom Durban July theme was Stars of Africa and the fashion loudly and proudly exuded exactly that.
Much like peacock feathers that fan out, so did the focal point of this outfit by Designer Warren Morck of MorQ.
He created an especially show-stopping outfit for his model, Yajna Debideen. "I wanted to represent SA by incorporating everything from Proteas to the Big 5 to our nation's hero, Nelson Mandela, into one design. My goal was to combine the different elements to create a look that showcases the country's diversity."
Deep red and billowing, Ndumiso Madonsela of Beez Couture created a gown inspired by Queen Nandi. "King Shaka Zulu loved his mother to the point of worship. I wanted to express that in my look by going for something that is majestic and calls for attention and worship."
Ghana, Ndebele, Nigeria and Xhosa, Lindo Mathebula created four designs inspired by different African countries and tribes.
"Wanted my pieces to exemplify all that is African, this is something I always want to feature in my garments. If I were to go anywhere in the world they'd know exactly who I am and where I am from just by looking at what I am wearing," she said.
Racewear is classical, synonymous with elegance and style. Like every year, the judges looked for garments that were on trend and beautifully executed.
Fit, quality and finish were very important. All aspects of the look – the hat, accessories, shoes and overall grooming were considered. It should be remembered that this was a race day, not an evening event.
The fashion parade boasted hundreds of fashion entries. The judges had to narrow down their search and were on the lookout for how well the theme translated in the outfits, creativity, use of trends, colour, and fabric.
Sindi Shangase, convenor of Durban Fashion Fair, a judge for ‘Classic Racewear’ said: “I’m looking forward to seeing what ‘African Stars’ resonate with the designers and how that is interpreted in their racewear garments. It could be anything from cultural, to sports or political heroes."
For Shangase, the theme shouldn’t be taken too literally because they are not meant to be restrictive, "They are guidelines and designers should be able to explore what appeals to them as an individual. But, at the same time, we as judges need to be able to see the theme woven seamlessly into the designs without it looking too theatrical," she said.
Over the years she's seen racewear transform.
"It has evolved into something more futuristic with a touch of the past still attached. We’re keeping tradition close, and not losing ourselves in the mix, while embracing the future and the present all at once.
Local fashion designer and Durban Fashion Fair (DFF) judge Greg Wallis said: “We aren’t looking for the obvious. This year’s theme is very exciting and so far the styles and ideas have been diverse and inspiring. I hope to see the use of lots of vibrant colours that are truly African, but with that innovative twist ."
Keeping his eye out on how the designers have made regular fabric theirs, Wallis added: "In the past we’ve seen lots of ball gowns and avant-garde fashion, but that’s not what racewear is about. I won’t be looking for that today. I want chic, smart and well-fitted with spin."