GO BIG or go home is the message that most designers are communicating in this year's Africa Fashion Week.

GO BIG or go home is the message that most designers are communicating in this year's Africa Fashion Week.

And David Tlale has lived up to this. He blew the competition out of the water. Never mind that he was the last one out, his show - complete with a live orchestra - was a sight to behold.

Just after midnight, the star of South Africa fashion's models took to the runway. A full-house of critics, fashionistas and celebrities was dazzled by his charmingpresentation.

Model Sonia Booth and hercolleagues moved to the strings of a full live orchestra.

Equally classy were his garments. They oozed energy and this showed in his silhouettes and graphic delivery.

The models looked like gentle fashion illustrations dressed in perfectly tailored garments made with contrasting panelling in soothing and relaxing palettes. Everything about the presentation was gorgeous.

The curtain-raisers on Wednesday night included designers Xuly Beth, Sakina Msa, Ituen Basi, Deola Sagoe, Soucha, Heni and Noir. The show was a far cry from last year's inaugural event that attracted bad reviews. This year's show was full of surprises.

Save for Xuly Beth, who came with his outdated 1994 collection and the dull Noir collection that looked like it was created for a school bazaar, the designs were true to the old African glamour with beautiful elegant silhouettes, rich colours and a lot of femme fatale.

Ituen Basi's Ankara collection was elegant and sophisticated.

Her interpretation of the garment was marvelous. She nailed it making the most tedious thing absolutely chic.

The Nigerian played both South African and Nigerian national anthems, minus the Die Stem part, before her models walked onto the ramp.

Equally bold was the collection of Nigeria's haute couture queen Deola Sagoe. She used quirky, funky variations of geometric and colourful prints, shiny fabrics and lively shades that made her collection a fun blend of original looks, testing the boundaries to create her own unique creations.

Heni's collection and runway presentation carried an undeniable art nouveau chic.

Today Mataano, Gloria Wavamunno, Suzaan Heyns and Sandra Muendane will strut their stuff minus Stoned Cherrie, who was supposed to show in the group. They pulled out at the eleventh hour.

Owner Khensani Nkosi said they pulled out because "we want to avoid competing with the African giants' epic clash against Uruguay this Friday evening".

The fashion week ends tomorrow, but not before the heavyweights Boudoir D'Huitres, Thula Sindi, Carducci Man, Carducci Woman Kluk and CGDT, have their say.