A vibrant awards ceremony at the Nkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre hosted by Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi and radio and television personality, Selby “Selbyonce” Mkhize, brought the 2019 Durban Fashion Fair (#DFF2019) to a memorable close on Saturday, September 28.
The event was officially opened by chairman of the eThekwini Municipality’s Economic Development and Planning committee, Cllr. Sipho Kaunda, who noted that, during the lifetime of the DFF, the Municipality had invested over R40 million in rejuvenating and supporting the fashion industry in the City and had facilitated the entrance of around 1 800 new fashion designers.
The red carpet event, which was attended by local celebrities as well as leaders within local government and the fashion industry, was the culmination of a four-day long joint celebration of fashion and business.
The DFF 2019 – themed Evolution is Elementary to highlight the influence of essential elements such as metals as well as the spontaneous growth of design – and the Durban Business Fair (DBF) – themed Journey of Innovation – took place concurrently at the ICC, emphasising once again how the economy of the city and the future of this key sector are inexorably linked.
It also celebrated the important connection between the creative industries and the drive by the eThekwini Municipality and its Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit to grow and support sustainable businesses and create jobs in the region.
The DFF traces its roots back eight years when it grew out of the Durban Business Fair. It has come a long way since 2012 when it took place over a single evening with just six shows and 12 designers. This year’s DFF included at least five shows per evening and featured over 50 designers from across the African continent.
Cllr Kaunda noted that the entire fashion value chain – from raw materials to the factories that produced textiles to the distribution channels that took manufactured products to the consumer – contributed significantly to the economy of the City, furthering the creation of jobs and helping to alleviate poverty.
He said that the DFF not only celebrated the trailblazers in the fashion industry but also provided the perfect platform to urge South Africans to support local enterprises by buying locally-produced goods.
The most eagerly anticipated award of the evening – the Durban Designer of the Year 2019 – went to Zama Gumede, a self-taught designer from Umlazi in Durban who worked for three years as a seamstress just to put food on the table before following her dream and launching her own fashion line, Zaviar Fashions.
The Collection of the Week award went to Quiteria which is owned by designer Lebogang Quieteria Kekana. The exuberant and colourful showing on the DFF ramp on Friday evening echoed his work dressing both local and international celebrities and showcasing his work across the globe.
This year’s Best Ladies Wear Collection 2019 Award went to Durban based designer and fashion stylist, Kwenzi Nkomo, who heads up Indoni Fashion House. She made her debut at the DFF in 2014 with Afro inspired designs that have a contemporary feel. She, too, has showcased her work around the world.
Athenkosi Mfungula and his brand, LeMFUX, accepted the closely contested Best Menswear Collection.
The Durban Fashion Legend 2019, which is based on nominations from within the local fashion industry and reflects a selfless contribution to building the future of the Durban fashion industry, went to Greg Wallis of D&G Apparel who has been instrumental in the success of the DFF’s long standing mentorship programme. Through this, he has personally mentored numerous young Durban designers, including many of the award winners at #DFF2019.
The Fashion Business Award went to Fabric & Bridal, a family business that has been a leader in retail fashion textiles for over 40 years. Fabric & Bridal sponsored fabrics for the mentees that showcased their first collections on the DFF ramp this year. The company also provided additional prizes for the three top mentees that received the Rising Star Awards.
The much anticipated Rising Stars Awards – which pick out the three top performing mentees that participate in a year-long designer mentorship programme in the run up to the DFF – were Bongie Funeka, Makhosazane Ntshangase and Sizwe Mncube. As head of the programme, Wallis noted that the quality of the designs and worksmanship of the mentees had been particularly high this year.
The Next Generation Emerging Designer Award, which recognises progress made by a newcomer from the previous year, went to Kazadi Wilson Mukeya and the smart and classic creations that are synonymous with his label VFK (Victor Fashion Kingdom).
The Fashion Innovator Award went to Zimbabwean designer, Yvette Margaux Ndaba from Eve-O Designs. She also collected the Best Female designer – in the African Designer Category Award which recognises designers from across the African continent who are invited to showcase their work at the DFF.
The award in the Best Male Designer – African Designer Category went to Tanzanian designer, Martin Kadinda (MK).
Six years ago, the DFF introduced a model search, providing an opportunity for youngsters from disadvantaged communities to not only get themselves on the DFF ramp, but also to begin to build modelling careers. The 2019 DFF New Face of the Year (ladies) was Umlazi resident, Thandeka Phakathi, while the New Face of the Year (men) was Austin Mbuyisa from Reservoir Hills.
Marking the evolution of a uniquely African brand of fashion, the DFF this year extended its model search to include Plus Sized Models with the Plus Sized Model of the Year going to Anneline Nagan who hails from Phoenix.
And, the awards didn’t stop flowing there. The Durban Business Fair was of such an incredibly high standard that organizers of both the DBF and DFF decided to introduce a new category to award the best three exhibition stands. The awards were handed over at the gala fashion awards evening, with BPSC Manufacturing taking the first award, followed by African Pride Manufacturing and the 2nd runner up went to African Alabaster Manufacturing.
Well done to all the winners!
Catch all the fashion action from the #DFF2019 on the Facebook page: Durban Fashion Fair or on Twitter / Instagram @Dbnfashion_fair or #DFF2019 / #madeindurban / #supportlocal
Images Courtesy: Thobelani Mdletshe Photography