‘Savage Beauty’ promises high fashion and African glam

Rosemany Zimu, who plays Zintle Manzini in ‘Savage Beauty’. Picture: Neo Baepi Netflix

Rosemany Zimu, who plays Zintle Manzini in ‘Savage Beauty’. Picture: Neo Baepi Netflix

Published May 10, 2022


Skin lightening is one of the most dangerous things in the beauty industry.

It is common among people who want their skin to be a shade lighter than it already is.

Those who can’t afford to bleach their skin at well-known skin clinics like Khanyi Mbau, resort to cheap skin lightening creams which, in the long run, can be harmful to the skin.

Sometime last year, IOL Lifestyle visited the shooting set of “Savage Beauty”, an upcoming Netflix original series created by South Africans.

Speaking to the director of the series Rea Rangaka, at Nelson Mandela Bridge, where they were shooting the last scenes, he took us through what the series is about – and no, it has nothing to do with Rihanna’s beauty line.

“Savage Beauty”, which premiers on Netflix on May 12, is a drama series that follows a young woman, who discovers dark secrets within the beauty industry and exposes them.

“The series follows the main character of Zintle, who, you know, is somebody who built themselves up from rags to riches, from working at restaurants since she was a street child, and was used as a test subject for illegal skin bleaching projects, financed by the Bhengu family. A few years later, she emerges and infiltrates the tangled dynasty to take them down and destroy their family for what they did to her and her brother. It’s pretty much about a revenge story, with high stakes and high fashion,” says Rangaka.

The six-episode series will bring fresh talent that will be revealed through fashion.

The characters will be wearing show-stopping designs from South Africa’s top designers.

“Within the different characters and their different personalities, we want to show them through fashion. And pretty much those who are into textiles and fashion will be quite pleased from episode one to the final episode,” says Rangaka.

Sulet Meintjies, head of design of the series, adds to the extravagant fashion that will be presented throughout the show.

“The audience can expect some super glam. I think overall the production design is going to be a feast for the eyes. I believe it’s a bit more out there for some characters than what we’ve seen on local TV,” says Meintjies.

She adds: “They can expect to see the works of Gert-Johan Coetzee. I think his designs are extravagant, glamorous and show-stopping. It will appeal to the audience, which is the reason we asked him to be involved. I tried to use some small local fashion brands where we were able to, even if it was from YDE and The Space. Further, we also had some amazing tailors and seamstresses, helping to create the one-of-a-kind looks. I love getting input from others to get the looks spot on.”

Meintjies says that when she was picking the wardrobe for the characters, it was important for them to make sure that it looks South African and not “American glam”. “I still want the audience to be able to relate or feel like looks are attainable, so it’s about finding that balance, while also creating some iconic looks,” she says.

Now, we know that every outfit must be accompanied by a sterling make-up look. Theola Booyens, head of make-up, says that they invested more in beautiful, natural make-up, as opposed to creating extreme make-up looks.

“It is high fashion so we got excited and a little carried away by the idea. We wanted to be trendsetters, which we still think we are. But then, we also looked at being relevant and keeping it classic. We invested more in keeping our actors’ skin beautiful. It’s about makeup being the last stage of your skincare, and skincare being the first step of your makeup. It became a crossover, we invested in glowy skin. We added some nice highlighters, and shimmers and golds,” says Booyens.

In terms of the hair, Rosemary Zimu, who plays the main character of Zintle Manzini, had to make some drastic changes and cut the dreadlocks that she’s had for seven years.

She says that at first she was emotional when she had to go bald, but took it as an opportunity to start afresh.

“Seven years is the number of completion and new beginnings. I didn’t feel as bad after that. Also, I had known that there was going to come a time for me to make drastic changes to fit my characters, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. I believe that to make characters more believable and bring them to life, we need to make some sacrifices and, for me, this was it. I am currently in love with my bald head, I’m going to keep it for some time. Depending on the characters that come in the future, maybe I’ll put my dreadlocks back. But if I don’t, I’ll probably burn them and have a whole goodbye session,” she says.

“Savage Beauty“ also features well-known faces like Nambitha Ben-Mazwi, Angela Sithole, Oros Mampofu, Jesse Suntele, Dumisane Mbebe, and NthatI Moshesh.