SA FASHION Week founder Lucilla Booyzen is determined to continue making the event a stunner.
Despite the economic strain the fashion industry is undergoing and the absence of a financial backer, Booyzen says preparations for the biggest fashion extravaganza on the country's fashion calendar are shaping up.
Running from March 25 to 27 it features eleven showcases that will be staged in three daily segments - morning, afternoon and evening.
As an international fashion model for many of the world's top fashion houses and a fashion show producer for more than 13 years, Booyzen's experience and dedication to producing professional fashion shows and special events is unsurpassed.
The former teacher switched to modelling after an agency approached her. She worked in Europe and accumulated extensive experience and international contacts in all phases of fashion shows and special event production.
Booyzen established a fashion production company called Runway Productions in 1984.
She says international exposure made her realise that South Africa could only develop a vibrant design culture and industry if there was an independent platform and showcase such as SA Fashion Week (SAFW) to uplift designers.
"I started attending the international fashion week circuit as far back as 1984 in London, Paris, Florence and Munich and realised that for our designers to be recognised and our industry to develop, we needed an independent platform of international calibre," she says.
During her initial contact with the international fashion weeks in Europe, she was exposed to all the facets of the fashion industry - from manufacturing and retail to exclusive fashion designers.
"In 1997 I decided to launch the South African Fashion Week. The aim was to develop designers with an identity that reflected the country. Though a relatively strong creative design force existed in South Africa, it was not representative of all the people," Booyzen says.
"The collections shown by designers were insular and mainly to clients. I saw this as a platform where designers could show their collections collectively."
SAFW i s the only fashion hub of its kind in Africa. It presented 17 designers in 1997 and has garnered a lot of attention in both the fashion and corporate worlds since then. It now hosts over 50 designers and exhibits just under 200 design s.
Asked how different SAFW is from other local fashion shows, Booyzen says this show is motivated by developing a world-class and design-led fashion culture and industry in South Africa.
"We don't see ourselves as a purely entertainment vehicle, but as the local equivalent of the international fashion week circuit where the principal driver is 'the business of fashion', which incidentally is SAFW's positioning statement.
"We want to see flourishing local designer brands become mainstream here and internationally alongside the Diesels, Miss Sixtys and Pradas of the world," she says.
The mother of one biological daughter and an adopted black child believes the industry can be very powerful for our country.
"In Italy, it's the second biggest industry, worth billions of Euros. And they only started in the 70s to concertedly grow, develop and export their big brands. This was done with huge support from the government," Booyzen says.