The 2020 Vodacom Durban July will showcase a transformation in fashion at “Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event” as the inner beauty of South Africans shines out from behind their masks with inspiration from the bold new voices in local design.

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, South Africa’s fashionistas and emerging young designers have come together to present a new face of beauty under the butterfly theme for this year’s Vodacom Durban July.

“It’s all about a transformation this year. This is the opportunity to be the person you really want to be. Let your fashion bring out your inner person. I’ve always believed that no amount of beautiful clothes or makeup can truly define beauty. It is a feeling. It is confidence and how you portray yourself. Now when we find ourselves having to stay at home or wear our masks, we can still be beautiful in the way that we feel,” says Diva Cadach, one of the Vodacom Durban July’s fashion influencers.

Fellow influencer Baba Ganoosh is equally excited about the theme’s impact on the transformation of society’s concept of beauty.

“Beauty has evolved to the point that where now, more than ever, it is about being different and having something that makes you different. Whether it’s seen as a positive or negative aspect, in the beauty industry now, it could be that one element that makes you the next big thing. Little things like having freckles or having a gap tooth or a different kind of skin. Beauty is now all about what makes you stand out from anyone else. So it’s so cool that the theme this year is butterflies because butterflies represent transformation, and through transformation you can find beauty in different ways.”

Both Diva Cadach and Baba Ganoosh are being joined by other Vodacom Durban July influencers who are working with aspiring designers on the creation of masks that reflect the new beauty of a new world that this year’s event will take place in, and with undertones of the overarching butterfly theme.

In their own work with their designers, both Diva Cadach and Baba Ganoosh say they have experienced again the incredible depth in design talent in South Africa, as well as the quite literal changing face of how society is re-interpreting what real beauty is.

“We’re moving into a space of accepting people for more than just their physical appearance,” says Baba Ganoosh.

“It’s wonderful to be able to work with an up-and-coming designer. I feel like it’s been really hard to give back in our industry because most of the time we can’t even go out. So Vodacom provided this great opportunity to use our platform to showcase a young designer’s work. I am working with a designer in Durban and it’s been great to combine our creativity and our different aesthetics, and come up with a single design.

“This experience has shown me that talent can come from anywhere and out of anyone, no matter your background our culture. I’ve been blown away by not only the designer I’m working with but also what I’ve seen from the other influencers and who they’re working with. We have a wealth of hidden gems of talent out there, and it’s great that they are being given the opportunity to showcase their work.”

Baba Ganoosh was paired with Athenkosi Mfungula, from menswear brand LeMfux, who designed her beautiful mask.

And for Diva Cadach, those who can truly showcase their inner beauty are going to be the real winners this year.

“As a makeup artist, I simply enhance. I bring out what you are already feeling inside. You can go to the best makeup artist, but if you have inner issues, you will not be as confident as what people may see. The biggest mistake people make is that they seek approval from others. You need to be comfortable in your style. We are all different, so fashion and makeup is just another way of interpreting yourself. It’s a language and a way of expressing yourself. Respect other people’s choices, because we cannot expect people to all look the same. It would be utterly boring otherwise.

“In this sense, the pairing up of me and designer Makhosi from the brand Sistas Felas, was genius. She understands me. Her attention to detail, her delivery and her passion for her craft is simply wonderful. It’s a great initiative by Vodacom to give this kind of platform to emerging designers. Our young designers are passionate and hungry. I see the fire in them.”

In a 2020 of uncertainty and shifting landscapes, this year’s Vodacom Durban July does indeed represent a radical transformation, and the butterfly theme resonates strongly with the team of influencers.

“My mother was very much a girly girl and wore a lot of makeup. I used to sit on her bed and just watch her applying her makeup, and that was so inspiring for me. Seeing that transformation right before my eyes left an indelible impact on me,” says Baba Ganoosh.

“The reaction on people’s faces after their makeup transformation is one of the greatest feelings ever. Their appreciation, and that moment when they cannot believe their new look – that is such a reward,” adds Diva Cadach.

“So just because we are covering up our faces, don’t be boring. Ladies need to focus on their eye areas and go bold with the makeup around your eyes. This is a great opportunity to play and have fun with your eye makeup right now.

“Have fun. You know, I was so worried that we wouldn’t have the Vodacom Durban July this year. But look, now we have something to look forward to. All is not lost.”