The raceday ensembles and showstoppers showcased by the five designers chosen for the Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase, presented by Durban Fashion Fair, based on the raceday theme “Birds of a Feather” have been released on the eve of the 125th running of the Vodacom Durban July.

Leigh Schubert

Leigh Schubert, who has been a trailblazing Durban designer for many years has an association with the Vodacom Durban July going back to 2002, and relished being part of the Invited Designer line-up once again.

“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!” she said. “So it was easy for me to take quite a literal interpretation of the theme.

“I made a feather fabric print and then cut out feather patterns to create a 3D effect. I strive to make something that is striking but still accessible and wearable,” she added.

Lara Klawikowski

Capetonian Lara Klawikowski took her inspiration from the Parrot Tulip as a basis of an ensemble she describes as bird-like and botanical. After her critically acclaimed flower-inspired range seen at SA Fashion Week, her thinking turned to the similarities between plants and birds. “This gave me an amazing colour pallet to work with,” she said.

Staying true to her signature upcycling style she used recycled plastic and offcuts of fabric collected from clothing factories to construct her garments.

“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.”

Having won the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Awards more than ten years ago, her first appearance as an Invited Designer was exhilarating. “It feels like a whole new level!” he added.

Hangwani Nengovhela

Gauteng based Hangwani Nengovhela, the force behind the label Rubicon Clothing, took a creative journey with the theme that started with flocks of flamingos and then connected this with a KwaZulu-Natal maritime element.

“I started with the flamingo colours and hues and the re-imagined this into turquoise ocean colours. I like to get people to dream!”

Having decided to use soft tulle to resonate with fishermen’s nets, and turquoise dyed ostrich feather, together with layering to reflect the ocean floor and delicate scallop prints and a sport lux visor, she was elated to have the final photoshoot done on the iconic pier in Umhlanga with the Indian ocean backdrop completing the look.

“These are tough times we are going through, but this this showcase has left me feeling energised and positive,” she said. “I hope as designers we can pass some of that positive energy to every else in our country.”

Zama Mathe

Zama Mathe, of the Zarth Designs label, thrived on a literal, feathery take on the “Bird of a Feather” theme, using 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,” Mathe added.

Sandile Duke Mngadi

Durban designer Sandile “Duke” Mngadi, the man behind the Duke Clothe Your Soul brand, chose his inspiration from the Southern Carmine Bee-eater for his bold range.

He started by repurposing an old sari and then working with duchess satin, satin twill, he created lavish layered flowing genderless garments in white, pink and cerise.

He added that he worked on a concept of “Birds of the same Love” to make a statement against violence being perpetrated against members of LGBTQ+ community.

“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,” he added.

Image credits:
Photographer : Sean Laurenz
Models : Top Notch Talent, Extreme Model Management, Iindoni, GIO, Boss Models
Makeup : Make Up Your Mind – Aldytha Da Silva
Hair : Hair Inc – Claire Swart
Shot on location on the Umhlanga boardwalk, city centre, Danté restaurant and on a yacht off Durban.