Student designers spread their wings

Twenty students from four design colleges across KwaZulu-Natal celebrated being named in the semi-finals of the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award, presented by Durban Fashion Fair, with a marked shift in the colleges enjoying a share of the limelight

With DUT students noticeably absent, second year fashion design students from the Lindiwe Khuzwayo Academy of Fashion Design, the Pietermaritzburg School of Fashion, Vega and the Fezile Fashion Skills Academy accounted for the twenty semi-finalist berths.

The students designed a raceday outfit based on the theme “Birds of a Feather” and provided the trademark cutting-edge creativity and technical innovation that the competition has become famous for.

Greg Wallis, one of the five-strong panel of judges that had to whittle the entry of 73 garments down to the twenty semi-finalists, said he was excited to see the emergence of fashion design talent from newer colleges in the region.

“It is quite amazing how every year the students rise to the occasion, and no matter what the theme is, they interpret it in their own way, and I must say that the research and thought processes that have gone into the outfits this year was quite incredible,” said Wallis.

“There were several entries from new colleges and they featured in the top twenty, which is really exciting” he added.

“The energy and excitement amongst the students was incredible and when the semi-finalists were announced the way the students came together, whether they had won or lost, was overwhelming,” said Wallis.

“It reinforces the fact that Durban is a real hotbed of fashion design talent, and it never fails us,” he added.

The twenty semi-finalists in the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award, presented by Durban Fashion Fair, are:
Mlungisi Mpanza, S’busiswe Dube, Nomathemba Zikhali, Portia Mkhize, Bernadine Singh, Zandile Mahlasela (all Lindiwe Khuzwayo Academy of Fashion Design) Qhubekani Nzimande, Silindile Mzobe, Sduduzo Ntanzi, Gcina Ngcoya, Simangele Ngcobo (all Fezile Fashion Skills Academy), Phumlani Buthulezi, Nomfundo Meyiwa, Acsah Pietersen, Vincent Orishedere, Nombulelo Ngcobo, Lindeka Duma, Thando Nguse (all Pietermaritzburg School of Fashion), Tashriq Chanderlal, Aliyah Hassim (both Vega).

Five Invited Designers announced for Vodacom Durban July

With exactly a month to go to the 2021 running of the Vodacom Durban July, the organisers of the event’s fashion programme have released the names of five household name designers who will participate in the Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase, presented by Durban Fashion Fair.

Respected fashion industry trailblazer Leigh Schubert makes a return to the annual raceday showcase event, and will be joined in the five strong line-up by fellow Durban designers Sandile Duke Mngadi, of the Clothe Your Soul label, and Zama Mathe, whose Zarth label has garnered a strong national following.

Another returning industry icon is Johannesburg-based Hangwani Nenghovela, the driving force behind the Rubicon label.

Capetonian Lara Klawikowski, who’s rapid rise to prominence in the fashion industry had much to do with her winning the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award as a student, completes the selection.

The Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase has always been a highlight of the pre-raceday fashion build-up programme and generates much interest online for the unveiling of the the work of the hand-picked Invited Designers each year.

Fashion programme director Tiffany Prior said that although the current lockdown would limit the chances to see the ranges of the Invited Designers in traditional show format, she expected this to heighten interest in the revealing of their creations through videos and photographs online.

“Whilst 2020 and 2021 have seen a very different Vodacom Durban July Fashion Experience, I am thrilled that our five amazing Invited Designers from Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg have embraced this year’s theme,” said Prior.

“Each of them has a very distinctive creative “handwriting’’ and understanding of the event and I have no doubt we will see beautiful work with attention to colour, detail and texture,’ she added.

“Leigh Schubert won best collection on show at Durban Fashion Fair last year, making her a perfect choice for the event and for our fashion partner,” said Prior. “I love her style and after chatting to her I know that she will deliver a very considered beautiful collection.”

“Sandile Mngadi loves Durban and his label, Duke Clothe your Soul, will stay true to his design vision and definitely add a completely different twist on the theme.

“Hangwani Nenghovela and Rubicon Clothing is an icon brand in South Africa. She has just shown her full collection at SA Fashion Week which was gorgeous. It already has theme-related ideas and I’m certain she’ll expand on these,” said Prior.

“Zama Mathe is always full of surprises with her understanding and love of the Vodacom Durban July. I’m certain we’ll see what she does best,” Prior added. “There is always loads of energy around her collections.

“I am so proud that we have invited Lara Klawikowski to this year’s event. As our 2009 Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award winner, Lara has spent the last decade building her brand and career very successfully.

“The theme this year is so perfect for her and we will see this in her choice of her own fabrications and design ideas,” Prior concluded.

Vodacom Durban July fashion programme takes flight

As the frenzy of Champions’ Season horseracing starts to grip the racing fraternity, fashion lovers have set their sights on the programme of competitions and shows planned for the 2021 Vodacom Durban July.

Fashion has always been an essential element of Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, and as the event paved the way for behind-closed-doors events last year, so too did the fashion programme adapt to comply with the prevailing lockdown regulations.

The 2021 fashion programme builds on the successes of the 2020 adaptations, and takes flight in the first weekend of June with the start of the important Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award, presented by Durban Fashion Fair.

Open to students at technikons and fashion design colleges across KwaZulu-Natal, the first round of judging at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse on Monday 7 June will require students to present their completed outfit inspired by the raceday theme “Birds of a Feather”.

Arguably the most onerous judging task of the entire fashion programme, the judges will shortlist around twenty semi-finalists to proceed to the next stage of the competition, which has over the year’s discovered many designers who have gone on to become household names in South African couture circles.

In the same vein, Durban Fashion Fair, established as an incubator for fashion design talent in the region, will profile eight emerging fashion designers, each of whom will be tasked with designing garments based on their interpretation of the theme for a range labelled the ‘DFF Rising Stars Collection’.

Always regarded as the high point of the fashion programme, the Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase this year will spotlight five iconic national designers from across the country, tasked with an unfettered role of designing a raceday ensemble based on the “Birds of a Feather” theme.

Fundamentally a non-competitive showcase event, this year’s spectacle will be driven online as the fashion programme complies with lockdown regulations, with live video and studio images set to satisfy the driving curiosity amongst fashionistas following the Invited Designer Showcase each year.

As was the case at last year’s behind-closed-doors Vodacom Durban July, the traditional raceday fashion competitions will fall away, but fashion fans proved in 2020 that their plans to watch the raceday spectacle at home was a lavishly glamorous affair, and much of the fashion programme content will be timed to contribute to that spectacle on the day of the big race.

No matter what the state of the lockdown in June and July, designers are determined to use their skills to give the nation a sensory thrill to tide them through the hard times.

Fashion is optimistic, uplifting and hopeful, and gives people something to look forward to and dream about,” said Cape designer Lara Klawikowski, who rose to prominence through winning the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award in 2009.

“Beautiful clothing is a pick-me-up in tough times,” she added.

Lara Klawikowski

Behind Closed Doors VDJ 2021 set to deliver

Even though this year’s Vodacom Durban July will once again be held ‘behind closed doors’ with no public sale of tickets, the organisers are confident of delivering all the features which make this Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event. “Horseracing, Fashion and Entertainment are the core elements which make up this spectacular event, and even though we won’t have the public at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse for the second year in a row, we will deliver an event befitting the 125th running of this famous race.” said Steve Marshall, Events and Marketing Executive of Gold Circle. “We are fortunate to be able to call on our experience of staging one of the first major ‘behind closed doors’ events last year. We are also fortunate to have a title sponsor in Vodacom, with whom we will be celebrating our 20th year, to partner with us through these challenging times.”

The fashionistas would already have taken notice of the “Birds of a Feather” theme released earlier this week, as College and Technicon design students begin their journey to lift the coveted Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award. The DFF Rising Stars Collection will once again compliment the Invited Designer Showcase to complete the 2021 VDJ Fashion Experience leading up to race day.

The Vodacom Durban July returns to its traditional first Saturday in July and the stage is already being set for one of the best fields of thoroughbreds to compete for the pinnacle prize in South African horseracing on 3 July. All of Belgarion (2020 VDJ), Got The Greenlight (2020 Daily News 2000, 2nd 2020 VDJ), Do It Again (2018 & 2019 VDJ), Rainbow Bridge (2019 & 2021 CT Met), Golden Ducat (2020 WSB Champions Cup), Linebacker (2021 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby), Malmoos (2021 WSB SA Classic), War Of Athena (2021 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic) and the horse everyone is talking about, Kommetdieding, are expected to be among the list of first nominations to be published on Wednesday 14 April for the historic 125th running of Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, the Vodacom Durban July.

Deeper meaning underlying Vodacom Durban July theme

The organisers of the Vodacom Durban July to be run on Saturday 3 July 2021 have unveiled the theme that will influence the racing, fashion and social aspects of the iconic raceday, alluding to a deeper underlying sentiment that unifies the horseracing industry.

The theme “Birds of a Feather” will excite the fashionistas and socialites as it offers a myriad of inspiration touchpoints for designers and decorators, as it invites them to explore the plumage of Africa’s birds.

But as Gold Circle Marketing Director Stephen Marshall points out, there is a powerful underlying message in the theme that speaks to the tenacity of the key players in the racing industry that is determined to deal with the current challenges.

“The Vodacom Durban July is a truly unique South African sporting and social occasion in the way that it unifies the nation and draws people together from all walks of life,” he said.

“Where this theme resonates with the horseracing industry is the way it unpacks how all the role players have been able to work together to ensure that the industry and all its key events have been able to keep going through a challenging year when so many others have fallen by the wayside.

“Like birds of a feather flocking together, the theme vividly describes the role that every person passionate about horse racing has played, from the owners, jockeys, trainers and grooms to the punters and the fans, in keeping racing alive.

“We were proud that this tenacity and determination allowed the Vodacom Durban July to be the first major event to be staged when the country was under the hard lockdown last year, and it provided a beacon of hope during those tough times.

Marshall said the theme will ensure that the raceday on the first Saturday of July will be memorable and spectacular, and said he was really looking forward to seeing the manner in which designers and fashionistas approached the “Birds of a Feather” theme.

“As a stylish and prestigious event, followers of the Vodacom Durban July enjoy delving into the theme and steer away from interpretations of the theme that are too literal,” added Marshall.

“This theme has a deep and profound meaning for those close to the horseracing industry and I am sure that there will be interesting fresh takes on the theme that reflect how working together we can deal with just about any challenge.

“In the same way as the theme concludes, we look forward to bringing the 2021 Vodacom Durban July to every corner of the world to “embrace this glorious raceday”,” he concluded.


Brightly patterned jockeys,
As light as a feather.
Ride thoroughbred horses,
That run hell-for-leather.

Hawk-eyed trainers,
Unruffled or in a flap!
Chat to silks-matching owners,
Revisit the plan! Recap!

Dedicated grooms,
Their charges parade.
As proud as peacocks,
A new hero will be made.

Hatch a plan with fashionable friends,
Consider mythology rising!
Explore the plumage of Africa’s birds,
Take flight with colours mesmerizing!

Like birds of a feather, they flock together,
Each in their own unique way,
Migrating from all corners of the world,
To embrace this glorious raceday.

The Vodacom Durban July
Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event