Michael Ferguson with his friend Chantal Botha of Ho�rskool Overkruin with one of the 13 dresses he designed for the schools matric dance.

Pretoria - “Your sexuality does not determine who you are or your success. It’s just an aspect of yourself.”

These are the remarks of 18-year-old gay pupil Michael Ferguson of Hoërskool Overkruin, after making 13 dresses in five months for the school’s matric dance which took place on September 19.

Using his industrial sewing machine which was given to him by his mother, Sanette, on his 17th birthday, Ferguson had to juggle matric and his design aspirations.

He is a matric pupil at the high school, also known as “Ovies”, where he studies art, consumer studies and information technology.

Sanette, who raised him single-handedly, said Ferguson always had a roving eye for fashion from an impressionable age.

He was three years old when he taught her what a pattern was.

“At church when we walked out, he asked me if I had seen a certain lady’s green paisley dress,” said Sanette, admitting that she had no idea what paisley even meant.

His growing dress addiction was so great that every third page in his exercise books in primary school had sketches of fairy-tale dresses such as ball gowns.

Ferguson made his first ball gown for Sanette when he was 15.

She encouraged him to write a letter for apprenticeship to the F Wilson Design Institute where he was well-received as a protégé for two years.

There he observed the designers at work and learnt to draw, design, cut and sew.

“Designing is not a joke for him,” Sanette said.

Of the 13 dresses he made for his girl mates at Ovies, Ferguson – who lives in Wonderboom – said he enjoyed making a black dress which was for his best friend who was also his date.

About the future of design, the young designer said: “All over the world the design industry is thriving. In Italy and Paris designing is thriving, so why can’t we thrive with all the talent?”

Ferguson is preparing for his first fashion show next year and plans to register his own business soon. - Pretoria News