Musa Mathebula, Nozipho Zuma and designer Lindo Mathebula taking it back to their roots in bold colours and patterns inspired by the Ndebele tribe. Picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA

From women in fascinators overflowing with beautiful blooms to dapper gents in sleek suits, this year’s Vodacom Durban July theme was It Is Time and the fashion interpretations were everything from literal to outlandish.

Wanting to make fashion more about culture, designer Lindo Mathebula said, “It is time to go back to our African roots. Most people nowadays are appropriating other people’s styles instead of embracing their own. It’s time that we bring it back home. If I go overseas dressed like this, they will know exactly where I am from,” she said.

The outfit Mathebula designed for herself is a blend of African and British culture. “I took elements from the Swati King using bright colours, bold shapes and traditional beading and tied it together with a ballgown skirt that is very reminiscent of the Victorian Era.”

Wearing fitted bell-bottom trousers, a funky pink necktie and aviator sunglasses, Ayanda Mnguni, dressed by Zinge Afrika, took us right back to the 70s. “Most people are starting to wear clothes from the 90s, my designer wanted to take it back a few more decades,” said Mnguni.

For Ndumiso Madonsela, designer of Beez Couture, the theme meant a clean slate. “When they speak of time, I took it to mean a new start. I drew inspiration from the hourglass which is why I decided to use white as it represents the purity of the sand that trickles through it. The silver portrays the modern clock.”

With hundreds of fashion entries, the judges had to narrow their search down, and were on the lookout for: how well the theme translated in outfits, creativity, use of trends, colour, and fabric. Sindi Shangase, convenor of Durban Fashion Fair, was a judge at the Galaxy Stage for ‘Classic Racewear’. “It’s quite interesting, some designers interpreted the theme well, going for classic or modern looks, others got a bit lost within it, taking it very literally,” she said.

Terrence Bray, who was also on the panel of judges, said, “Often with themes the fashion can be a bit ‘gimmicky’ and can look a bit too ‘costume’. I always look for something that makes  me feel inspired, that is well made and has a polished look.”