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DUT fashion designer wins International award in Italy

DUT fashion designer wins International award in Italy

Media statement by Nomonde Mbadi, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs

Stylist and fashion designer Nirma Madhoo-Chipps recently won first prize in the ‘C’N’C Plug Generation Design Contest’. Finalists from Eighty (80) countries entered this online competition which was organized by Costume National, an established fashion label from Milan, Italy.

Nirma lectures Fashion Theory at the Fashion and Textiles Department at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and feels that the way in which the Internet has democratized access to information is revolutionary to Design students.
Nirma’s message to her DUT Fashion students is: “This experience was a real eye-opener. It is proof of how the World is out there is within reach, for anyone with the talent and dedication to make their mark in the sphere of design. It is however up to you to use the time and resources available to you constructively.”

Costume National is an Italian Fashion house founded by designer Ennio Capasa in the 80s. Its second line, C’N’C was launched in 2004 and is targeted at a younger market. A lot of marketing for C’N’C is done online, in tune with the techno-savvy generation they target.

NIrma was given a Euro cheque prize, and Costume National flew her to Milan to attend their show at the Milan Fashion week and see her design on the C’N’C catwalk. She had an amazing 3-day whirlwind of an experience in Milan where she met with the founder of the label, Ennio Capasa, as well as the dynamic team behind C’N’C.

Her concept for the Contest as interpreted through her design was summed up as: ‘We are the plug generation: Multi-ethnic, Multi-tasking and Multi-plugging. My concept represents all of those. The multi-ethnic/multi-cultural identity shows up in elements such as the tribal markings on the face; the USB-shaped parting in the hair is reminiscent of the shaved partings we see on South African side-of-the-street makeshift tented Hair salons’ canvas adverts; the multi-Plug headdress is inspired by depictions of multi-handed Asian Gods which also carries through the concept of Multi-tasking.’

Her concept also stems from this tongue-in-cheek mental picture she had drawn after reading a newspaper article last year. She says the article was written by an elderly gentleman who was reminiscing about the days where people would be seen in public places reading newspaper and having a coffee. This was in context of a more or less sadly-toned comparison to nowadays youth ‘who had wires sticking out from everywhere’ (ipods, cellphones, mp3 players). Being a ‘Digital Immigrant’ (term coined by Marc Prensky), Nirma says she is most interested in the way that the Youth is evolving and that she tries to keep up with changes in technology as well as the changes in thinking and learning.

“A combination of reflection on my own identity, as well as this elderly gentleman’s commentary on today’s Youth’s visual identity got me thinking. When the C’N’C contest came up earlier this year, I decided to interpret the concept of the Plug Generation in a researched, conceptual, yet culturally significant way,” concludes Nirma Madhoo-Chipps.

She hopes to participate in similar events in the future as it gives her the chance to express her creativity and ideas as designer, cultural commentator and educator.

For more information, please contact Bhekani Dlamini on 031 373 2845 to facilitate the interview.