Haute couture, French for "high sewing", is a common term for custom-fitted clothing as produced in Paris and imitated in other fashion capitals such as New York, London and Milan.
And now, this high fashion extravaganza will soon be synonymous with Soweto, thanks to Maponya Mall which opens its doors in the sprawling township tomorrow.
Situated on the Old Potchefstroom Road near Nancefield, the 65000 square-metre upmarket and trendy mall has proven to be a major drawcard for retailers eager to claim a share of the estimated R4,3 billion Soweto consumer market.
The R650 million mega-shopping complex, with lots of shopping to die for, will house haute couture's Mertique as one of the "Soweto firsts".
The bespoke boutique will offer an exclusive collection of wedding fashion and jewellery to complement its fashion.
Some garments and jewellery will also be available for hire, according to Mercia Hlatshwayo, founder and designer-in-chief for Mertique.
Hlatshwayo, who is known for her innovative and cutting- edge fashion designs, says her fashion store promises to offer 24-hour tailor-made garments, especially for those who need a special occasion outfit .
But Mertique will not be the only Soweto "first".
The eight-theatre Ster Kinekor complex, Toys R Us outlet and new-look stores for Pick 'n Pay Hypermarket and MacDonald's will also be trading as "firsts".
World-class retailer brands like Woolworths, Edgars and others, as well as four major banks and food chains will also open their doors.
Maponya Mall is a 28-year-old dream and brainchild of Soweto entrepreneur and renowned businessman Richard Maponya, pictured.
Maponya, who developed the mall in partnership with Zenprop Property Holdings and Investec, says he regards the mall as the flagship in his business empire and the pinnacle of his five decades in business.
Maponya says he purchased the site during the apartheid era, but his efforts to build the mega mall were stymied by the apartheid government.
An interest rate shock in the late 90s also contributed to the abandonment of the project.