It took a sit-down, heart-to-heart talk from her husband for this year’s Vodacom Durban July young designer award winner to finally pursue her dream of fashion design.
The 27-year-old Carla Ann Gerstmeier this week described her decision to finally enroll at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) two years ago as the best decision of her life. “Fashion design has always been my biggest passion. Sadly I was strongly advised against going into the industry when I was younger. So I went down another road, but thank God for my husband. Once we were married, he sat me down and said he wanted me to do whatever made me come alive. So as silly as I felt, I enrolled at DUT at 25 years of age, and it was one of the best decisions of my life.” she said this week, still basking in the glory of being crowned the best young designer, beating more than 100 other aspiring and talented hopefuls.
Gerstmeier, who is married to Gangs of Ballet frontman Brad Klynsmith, will complete her DUT studies in October this year. She met her husband in 2009 while she was living in London. Soon after, she decided to move back to Durban where Klynsmith was based. Her Passion for fashion, she said, started at an early age. “As cliched as it may sound I have always loved fashion. I still have some of my fashion sketches I did when I was 10 years old and home videos of my sister modelling my clothes,” said Gerstmeister.
Before winning the VDJ young designer award, she had entered one other competition last year, the International SDC Colour Challenge. She won the South Africa round and went to Hong Kong to compete against 15 participants from other countries.
Speaking about her VDJ young designer award-winning garment, Gerstmeier said it took her two to three weeks to interpret and come up with an idea for this year’s “The Captains’s Table” VDJ theme. “I finally got my concept when I allowed myself to daydream – I imagined myself at the table with all the luxurious details and when I “saw” the champagne at the table, I knew it would be my inspiration. The champagne gave me both my colour palette and helped in creating the garment by picturing this luxurious, untouched and desired woman. I conveyed this concept by using a firmer fabric to create a sleek and structured look and then used beading on the sleeves and fascinator to represent the delicate nature of the champagne,” she said.
Gerstmeier said she didn’t fancy her chances of clinching the coveted title. “I am surrounded by so much talent that I actually went in pessimistically in terms of winning. I take the stance that i want to create clothing that I love, and if someone else likes it then it’s an added benefit. Fashion is too subjective to create it for others, I want to love what I do,” she said, adding that her prize package includes a business class trip to New York to attend fashion week, cash, Gateway vouchers, a phone, a spa stay, and a makeover.
Winning the title, said Gerstmeier, was a push in the right direction for her career. “It seems to be quite good advertising for my wedding dress business, EVE, that I have on the side with my friend, Britney Chaplin. We started making wedding dresses in our first year of Tech,” she said.
Much to her husband’s dismay, Gerstmeier said she prefers making women’s clothing. “I find it more interesting, the scope is wider and the depth of creativity feels deeper. My husband does beg me to make him clothes,” she said with a chuckle.
Pictured: Durban University of Technology student Carla Ann Gerstmeier (left) celebrates with model Xia Narain after Gerstmeier received the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award, presented by Durban Fashion Fair at this year’s event. Left, model Narain shows off Gerstmeier’s winning creation.
– The story and picture was taken from The Independent on Saturday newspaper.