5 Designers Bedazzling the 2021 Durban July

Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Leigh Schubert

By Renate Engelbrecht

Sat, Jul 03

The 125th Vodacom Durban July takes place on Saturday, 3 July and five local designers have been chosen to bedazzle the event in the Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase, presented by Durban Fashion Fair.

Leigh Schubert

Leigh Schubert, a trailblazing Durban designer was delighted to be part of the Invited Designer line-up once again, and she was even more thrilled about this year’s ‘Birds of a Feather’ theme.

I am crazy about birds, so the theme was perfect for me. I have bird prints on the wallpaper and the ceiling of my store, so it was easy for me to take quite a literal interpretation of the theme.

– Leigh Schubert

Schubert made a feather fabric print and then cut out feather patterns to create a 3D effect. She says that she strives to make something that is striking, but still accessible and wearable.

Lara Klawikowski

The Cape Town designer, Lara Klawikowski was inspired by the Parrot Tulip as a basis of what she calls a bird-like and botanical ensemble. She says that she had an incredible colour pallet to work with after her critically acclaimed flower-inspired range from SA Fashion Week made her look at the similarities between plants and birds.

She also stayed true to her signature style of upcycling by using recycled plastic and fabric off-cuts collected from clothing factories for her garments.

Lara Klawikowski (second from right) with her raceday ensemble modelled by (from left) Nomfundo, Zuzu and Lwazi. Image: Sean Laurenz

“Material that otherwise would have ended up in a dump now becomes part of something beautiful for the Vodacom Durban July, which is exciting. It makes what we do sustainable and responsible.”

– Lara Klawikowski

READ: How to get your wardrobe ready for Autumn/Winter 2021

Hangwani Nengovhela

The Gauteng-based Nengovhela is also the force behind the label, Rubicon Clothing. Her creative journey started with flocks of flamingos which she connected with a KwaZulu-Natal maritime element. She says she started with the flamingo colours and hues and re-imagined it into turquoise ocean colours.

“I like to get people to dream!”

– Hangwani Nengovhela

Her designs were perfect for the final photoshoot at the iconic pier in Umhlanga, with the Indian ocean completing the look. She says that amongst the tough times we are going through as a country, the showcase left her feeling energised and positive.

Zama Mathe

Zarth Designs’ Zama Mathe interpreted the ‘Bird of a Feather’ theme very literally and used breezy lightweight tulle to create a flowing elegant trio of garments in turquoises and pinks.

“I was looking to show freedom, lightness and precision, with the beautiful colours inspired by the birds.”

– Zama Mathe

Sandile “Duke” Mngadi

The man behind Duke Clothe Your Soul, Sandile “Duke” Mngadi found his inspiration from the Southern Carmine Bee-eater for his bold range showcased at the 2021 Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase. Working with duchess satin and satin twill, he created flowing gender neutral garments to make a statement against LGBTQ+ -based violence.

Sandile “Duke” Mngadi (second from left) with his raceday ensemble modelled by (from left) Phumla, Gugu and Kwanele. Image: Sean Laurenz

Fashion is art and art is a movement and we as a brand want to stand up and say ‘Enough is enough’ and we choose to do it through fashion.”

– Sandile “Duke” Mngadi

Africa’s biggest horse racing event takes place behind closed doors on Saturday, 3 July and can be streamed live from 10h30. You can also watch it on SuperSport 4 (DStv channel 204) or Tellytrack (DStv channel 249) from 1PM.


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