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.