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Designer says people will be blown away by gowns designed for two Miss SA finalists

Bespoke couture with an African flair

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Fashion designer Zamaswazi Mathole
Fashion designer Zamaswazi Mathole
Image: Supplied

Fashion designer Zamaswazi Mathole's aesthetic is a celebration of his African roots and its rich cultural heritage with a modern Western twist.

The 30-year-old self-taught designer has been given a chance of a lifetime to create two gowns for Miss SA finalists Pearl Ntshehi and Itumeleng Parage. He hopes his creative direction of the gowns will suit both finalists’ personalities and the communities they come from.

The Soweto-born designer has previously worked with the organisation to create gowns for Lalela Mswane and Shudufhadzo Musida.

How has your journey been thus far in the fashion industry?

After my dream of becoming a professional football player failed due to a knee injury, I had to look for something else to do. I began a process of introspection and thought of all the skills that I had. I was never interested in fashion at first but I used to take my sister’s clothes and rework them into something I could wear, not realising I was developing a skill.

My friends started complimenting me for my sense of style and they suggested I try my hand at fashion design. I then started doing my research and began attending several fashion week events. This is where I met key people who helped me find my feet in the industry such as veteran designers Ole Ledimo of House of Ole, who is someone I look up to, and style consultant Brian Lehang.

I can’t reveal or describe how the gowns look, but I assure you that you’ll be blown away. I pushed the fashion boundaries with these gowns; they’re not something I’ve never done before

What inspires you when designing a gown?

I don’t necessarily zone into a specific thing to spark my creativity but the evolving trends of the fashion industry and keeping ahead is mainly my muse. Also being proudly African and our heritage as black people is what often inspires me.

Why do you always incorporate traditional African textiles into your creations?

It’s my way of finding individuality. It’s my way of telling my story through the garments I create. I believe being proudly South African and African should translate into what we wear. By creating beautiful garments, people can embrace our local fabrics and material while in turn preserving our culture.

How do you feel about this Miss SA opportunity?

Being one of the designers to dress the finalists is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and to finally be here proves to the name I’ve built over the nine years being in the industry. Yes, there’s a bit of pressure to prove my creative skills but I know I will nail the job.

What was your impression of the two finalists?

I enjoyed meeting and engaging with the two ladies. They’re quite polite and bubbly which made it a breeze to work with them. I can’t reveal or describe how the gowns look, but I assure you that you’ll be blown away. I pushed the fashion boundaries with these gowns; they’re not something I’ve never done before… I can’t wait to see how the public responds to my stable creations' new designs and reinvention. The purpose is not to be different but unique with all my designs. I want when people take a first glance at my garments to know that "that’s Zamaswazi" without having to ask or check the label.

What’s next for you?

To take my creative designs to the world. I believe more people need to know of my bespoke couture with an African flair.  

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