Robben Island, in Table Bay in Cape Town, is a widely known place, not only by us South Africans but the rest of the world as well. A former home for some of our prominent political prisoners such as our former presidents, Nelson Mandela, Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe.
Although the island is tainted with dark stories of torture and inhumane conditions and the long suffering some prisoners endured, there are a number of inspiring stories that have come out of it as well. Such as, it is regarded as a place that groomed some of our leaders who went on to play a massive part in the ending apartheid.
Many people around the world were inspired by Madiba’s story of resilience and triumph in a number of ways. One such person is Charmaine Taylor, the founder of a South African luxury jewellery brand named “Legacy Collection”. She shares with us her story of how she ended up producing accessories that are made from the Robben Island prison fence that held Madiba prison for many years.
Hello Charmaine. please us a little about yourself? While running Love Design agency, I worked for my friend Chris Swift and his team called Riact. I did their print marketing and packaging for their unique product. Swift prevented the original fence from being placed in a landfill in 2009 when Robben Island could not maintain their rusted maximum security prison fence. As an award-winning artist who used waste and up-cycled materials, he saw the value in the fence.
Your designs are meticulous, unique and well thought out. can you tell us a little about your design style? In my first range I wanted to keep the fence as it was, as much as possible. So I am well known for straight square or uniform designs. I ensure through the whole process that I always use an original piece of the Robben Island prison fence. I keep the original texture as much as possible because this is what makes the collection unique. I also name each piece after our road to democracy and the miracle of the peaceful day of our first democratic vote. Each piece also gets a serial number and a certificate of authenticity. I also give back 10% of the profits to local educational projects, which I am extremely passionate about.
Is there a story behind your pieces? Yes, there is a story behind each piece. I always create jewellery that draws attention and the person wearing it is usually proud to share the story of why they chose to invest and wear the Legacy Collection.
What kind of person wears your pieces? I have had many Hollywood and local stars wear my jewellery or own an artwork, such as Paula Abdul (singer), the cast of the Empire series - Jussie Smollett, Taraji P Henson, Terrence Howard - and also Sean Penn, Terri Polo and Sherri Saum (The Fosters). Also local stars Joanne Strauss, Roxy Louw, Siv Ngesi and many more
What does the legacy of Madiba mean to you? I am so proud to be a South African and to say I lived in a time such as this. Having lived in the old South Africa as a young girl and watching Nelson Mandela take power with such grace and lead a county into a peaceful democratic election. He tore down walls locally and internationally.
Tell us about your latest collection? I have got two new collections on the go. With Legacy Collection I am concentrating on the continent of Africa so I am making gorgeous new Africa necklaces, earrings, bangles and cuff-links, including diamonds and pure gold.
I also have created a separate division of Legacy Collection called Inspired Freedom, where I am creating stories within large earrings. I have a few beaders who I have employed and we weave them together. I always include my Legacy Collection Release Pendant shape and also Ndebele art or the map of Africa. I also use international flags and Africa in everything, drawing attention back to the influence that Africa has on the world today.
Where can we shop your brand? You can shop online - www.legacycollection.org - ship worldwide
Connect on social media: Instagram @legacycollection and Twitter @legacyctn
Model: Nandi Ngumede
Makeup by Wasim Van Vught
Creative direction and styling Nontando Mposo