The judges billed the first round of judging of the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer ward presented by Durban Fashion Fair as a triumph against adversity as 56 students designers from colleges and technikons across the province defied the odds stacked against them by the Covid-19 lockdown to vie for a place in the semi-finals of the prestigious competition.

With all the tertiary fashion institutions closed since the start of the lockdown the students had to make do with facilities they had at home to complete their designs and then construct their outfits that interpreted the “Butterflies” theme.

The student designers lived up their reputation for edgy design concepts and technical fabrication excellence as they faced judges Greg Wallis, Madelaine Clark and Nonku Mthembu, mindful that success in this competition can kick-start the fashion career of an aspiring fashion designer.

“I know it has been extraordinarily difficult for the students during the lockdown, but to see the number of entries and the exceptional quality of the work they produced is really a triumph of the human spirit,” said fashion programme director Tiffany Prior.

Durban fashion stalwart Greg Wallis agreed. “Business knows no sentiment. I am so happy to see that the student designers have adopted the same attitude. They have gone out, found what they needed and put it together in an impeccable way.”

“The quality and inventiveness struck me,” he added. “Some of the designers had gone so far as to study the species of the butterfly they planned to show in their garments. That really impressed me.”

Durban designer Madelain Clark said she was surprised at the standard that was displayed despite the challenges posed by the lockdown. “The students have gone the extra mile to get resources during this very difficult time, which shows you that the passion is really there,” she said

“Despite the lockdown it was very clear today that there is a real love for fashion, which is very encouraging,” she added.

The judges settled on twenty semi-finalists, and will further trim that list to ten finalists on Wednesday. Those ten will feature in a virtual fashion show on Tuesday 25 August where the top three will be announced.

The semi-finalists of the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award presented by Durban Fashion Fair:
Silungile Dlamini, Tatanya Thavar, Ntsiki Mbeje, Caleb Moodley, Goodness Sithole, Ekerusalem Woloemarian, Esme Tibinyane, Nomathemba Dlamini, Kabelo Mothobi, Mohammed Waalid Sheik, Sibuyiselwa Sithole, Mamello Putsoane, Nelisa Ndlovu, Nomcebo Sibiya, Ntobeko Mkhonto, Sesupo Lethetsa, Ayanda Khoza, Manisa Mavuma, Lungiswa Mthethwa, Thandeka Mthembu.