Pretoria - Mamelodi fashion designer, Agrippa Zwane, 33, stunned the fashion world with a work-of-art dress picked and worn by Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane.
From the emotions of excitement and how passionate he tells this story, it was clear without a doubt that Zwane's dreams truly came true when Mswane adorned his garment for homecoming in February.
Having been an excellent academic pupil all his life, abandoning analytical chemistry to follow his dream to study fashion design was certainly one of the hardest things Zwane did as it disappointed his parents who were skeptical.
Today his love for fashion is paying off and his parents have changed their minds about the trade. They watched him build his own studio behind their house after receiving his diploma in fashion design from the Tshwane University of Technology.
He tells the story of perseverance with a vivid smile on his face because while their industry took a knock during lockdown in 2020, Zwane opted not to be negative and started making the artistic dress, knitting bits individually for nine months.
Fast-forward two years later, his dress was adorned by arguably one of the most beautiful, intelligent and influential young women in the country. She even posted it on her social media pages and tagged the Mamelodi rising star.
Mswane even called Zwane to meet with her and they took a selfie and talked about the dress that has since seen fashion designers advise him not to sell it for anything under R100 000.
“I felt so beautiful in this garment that represented the beautiful colours of South Africa and my heritage! It’s truly a reflection of true African craftsmanship,” said Mswane to Zwane's publicist.
Zwane said to this day he was still shocked because this was a huge achievement; and one that many young and emerging fashion designers would love to add on their resume.
"I am still speechless. I met Miss South Africa and she was such a beautiful and peaceful soul. She complimented me and told me that my work was beautiful and neat. I was just like wow, is this really happening?
"I am just so humbled, especially because our industry has been struggling since the pandemic. A lot of my friends and colleagues lost their businesses and closed their studios. Even though I did not have clients I was just lucky I work from home.
"This achievement really gave me hope. People are contacting me and wanting my services because I also specialise in male suits, wedding gowns and evening gowns. I am also growing my brand, House of Agrie Couture"
Zwane also feels like sometimes when blessings come, they come one after another. Mswane wore his dress not long after he was called to come and dress actors for a wedding scene in one South Africa's most loved soapies on Dstv. The episode must first air before he can speak about the experience.
"I have always loved fashion to be honest. My grandmother still reminds me to this day that I would draw dresses, heels, shoes and faces on her bibles when I was young. She showed me one bible that she kept.
Before he was busier, Zwane used to be a guest lecturer in creative design and patterns at the Tshwane University of Technology as the institution would pick its former best students to teach others.
He used to dress, on a full time basis, the youngest member of Parliament, Naledi Chirwa. She has done shows at the AMG Performance Centre in Menlyn and Pont de Val and numerous other clubs.