Cape Town designer partners with Dove to raise awareness for vision-impaired people

Balini Naidoo-Engelbrecht on stage with Meagan Adonis. Picture: Supplied.

Balini Naidoo-Engelbrecht on stage with Meagan Adonis. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jul 10, 2024


The Hollywoodbets Durban July, which recently took place at the Greyville Racecourse, was a social and fashion event for many. But for designer Balini Naidoo-Engelbrecht, it was an opportunity to raise awareness for vision-impaired people.

The Cape Town-based designer partnered with Dove to create a show-stopping gown using braille, to allow vision-impaired content creator Meagan Adonis an opportunity walk the Durban July stage in high fashion.

Naidoo-Engelbrecht said working with Dove on the 100 Colours campaign had been a humbling experience because as an up-and-coming designer, she was dedicated to creating awareness for vision-impaired people and making them inclusive when it comes to fashion.

“The design process was fun because it was such a fun theme ‘Ride The Wave’ and then incorporating the theme and expressing yourself in 100 colours, was easy but the whole process of applying braille to the garment was a testing phase.

“Thereafter, we found micro fabrics to work with and tried to incorporate the dress because there is no big extravagant dress with braille.

“Other international designers apply braille to leisure wear. In South Africa, no designer’s been designing braille and incorporating inclusivity into their fashion, not that I’ve heard of,” she said.

Meagan Adonis in her first look.

The former Durban University of Technology student acknowledged that, fun as it was, designing on braille was a challenge but all went well because, during the first few years of studying fashion and textile design, she came up with a concept of designing a braille identification system. And that helped her a lot during this project.

Navini Ramsamie, Dove Deodorant Brand Manager, said as a brand that advocates for real beauty for all women, it was fitting for them to collaborate with Naidoo-Engelbrecht and Adonis, a disability activist and influencer living with blindness.

“This campaign was crafted to empower women to boldly embrace their individuality through a diverse palette of 100 colours.

“By nurturing a culture of 'Colour Confidence,' we aimed to foster a sense of freedom and enhance self-assurance among all women, including those with visual impairments, inspiring them to confidently express their personal style without the worry of marks and stains on their favourite garments,” said Ramsamie.

Adonis, who looked exquisite in the pink and blue braille gown designed by Naidoo-Engelbrecht, said she had felt like a goddess.

“This dress made me feel not only incredible but also empowered. With the support of Dove and Balini, we have broken boundaries and worked towards destigmatising disability in the fashion industry.

“Together, we’ve shown that true beauty and style are inclusive, and everyone deserves to feel extraordinary,” said Adonis.

Meagan Adonis in her second look.

“Dove has always epitomised a brand that I deeply admire and wanted to partner with, due to their steadfast dedication to celebrating real beauty in all its forms and empowering individuals to embrace their unique selves.

“Being declared legally blind a few years ago profoundly changed my life, and it made me value, even more, the efforts of brands like Dove that are committed to breaking the mould and tearing down barriers.”

Naidoo-Engelbrecht, who founded Balini in 2015, said she was inspired by her uncle to focus on braille because she wanted to make things easy for vision-impaired people.

“Having an uncle who was vision impaired made me aware of his challenges when it came to clothing; and the braille identification helps vision impaired individuals be more self-reliant when it comes to their daily choice of clothing.

“It tells you the colour of the garment, the size, the wash care label and how to style the garment together,” she said.