David Tlale celebrates 20 years of his atelier in style
Designer also honoured his late mom who would have turned 80
Mzansi’s leading couturier and internationally acclaimed fashion designer, David Tlale, celebrated 20 years of his atelier in spectacular and extravagant style, by sending an 80-piece collection down the runway.
The collection paid homage to his late mother Joyce, who would have celebrated her 80th birthday in September. Affectionately known to many in fashion as “Granny”, she was the Vosloorus-born, in the East Rand, visionary’s biggest muse.
Before her death in 2019, Joyce was often spotted looking chic in the front row of her son’s showcases. In 2018, she was notably the face of Tlale’s spring/summer 2017/18 collection and modelled for the ad campaign.
The backdrop to honour two decades of Tlale, on Wednesday night, was the breezy rooftop of The Venue, in Melrose Arch. The M1 Highway traffic hubbub scored models as they strutted down the ramp – perhaps the perfect metaphor that two decades later Tlale is not showing any signs of slowing down and continues to run Jozi.
The anniversary celebration kicked off the 2023 Africa Fashion International (AFI) Joburg Fashion Week, which will conclude on Saturday at The Forum – The Campus in Bryanston.
In true Tlale style, the show ran just over an hour late. But not even that could dampen Tlale’s delightful mood and spirit. Towering over guests in his signature Rick Owens platform boots and all-black layers, Tlale opened with a short prayer before delivering a speech reflecting on the last two decades.
Tlale narrated the genesis of his fashion story, which launched after he won the Elle New Talent at SA Fashion Week in 2003. He then got honest about the hardships over the years and remaining on top, for which he credited the grace of God.
Guests included Basetsana Kumalo, Bridget Masinga, Kefilwe Mabote, Nadia Nakai, Savita Mbuli, Ole Ledimo, Mzukisi Mbane and Mpumelelo Dhlamini. On the runway, there were surprise appearances by Tlale’s past and present muses such as former Sowetan entertainment editor and veteran journalist Lesley Mofokeng, former model Sonia Booth and Nigerian megastar Swanky Jerry, who was also filming the third season of hit Netflix reality show Young, Rich & African.
“All those challenges of building a brand from the dusty streets of Vosloorus have taught me the hardships, the lessons, the trials and tribulations have been worth it. Today, we are standing here because of God’s grace. I often tell my team that the House of David Tlale exists not because we have everything but all we have is God, who is on our side,” Tlale said.
“If you believe and you pray hard even if things are not working out, but to keep praying. Many of my family and friends have seen me fall and rise, and tonight I’m standing. I want to thank my friends, family, clients, SA media and fashion and lastly my late mother.”
The anniversary celebrations are set to continue with 20 events planned around the globe.
Tlales’ showcase commenced with a 30-piece collection by six emerging fashion designers from his mentorship programme, The Intern by David Tlale. The designers are Nthato Ralekholela, Refiloe Motsekedi, Lebogang Mathibe, Zalisile Stuurman, Thabiso Moleleko and Sir Anthony.
Designers to have emerged from Tlale programme include Sihle Masango and SA Fashion Week New Talent winner 2018 Cindy Mfabe. They were both in attendance and Tlale asked them to join him on the runway during his speech.
The line-up for AFI Joburg Fashion Week this year includes Scalo, Masango, Gvllvnt, Urban Zulu, Bongiwe Walaza, Bathini Designs, Woke Studios, Indoni Fashion House and more. Lloyiso, Young Stunna, Mafikizolo and Zakes Bantwini are scheduled to perform.