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Fashion and Textiles Students from the Durban University of Technology (DUT) have clinched three of the top 10 spots at the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award presented by Durban Fashion Fair. The students are Silungile Dlamini, Goodness Sithole and Caleb Moodley.  

The winner will be announced at the end of a virtual fashion show at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse today, 25 August 2020. For Sithole being part of the VDJ 2020 top 10 feels amazing to her. “I do not even have a proper word I can use to describe such a feeling, it is such a great opportunity to even come this far. As a young designer it is a great exposure,” she said excitedly.  

Given the theme: Butterflies, the way she conceptualised it helped her with being not literal. “I did not want to give people what they are already expecting garments with butterflies. I used an off-white calico because it is a natural fabric and gives a softer feel to the skin, I used a dryer to get that crinkled texture on the fabric and I used Felt and beads for the embellishments to bring the fabric back to life with the 2 and 3D effect,” she said.   

She also added that she wants to have her own fashion house, a fashion brand that will be successful and well-recognised locally and internationally. For Dlamini being in the top 10 is amazing. “I’m very grateful, especially for the opportunity to represent my institution. For every designer the challenge has to come with the theme. But as I did research on the butterfly I got inspired by metamorphoses which is a growth process of a butterfly. The design process had to show the different stages of metamorphosis or the growth process of a butterfly. I decided to use raw calico. For the embellishment I used circle cutouts of the calico with burnt edges, I then used natural dyes such as egg yellow and beetroots and food colouring to keep to my theme of nature. The authenticity of the fabric and natural dyes celebrates nature’s beauty such as the butterfly,” she said.  

She further added that with COVID-19 being at the forefront of 2020, there’s been a shift in a lot of work that had to be done with not a lot of time to do it. “Being a student at DUT we are privileged to have lecturers who help us with doing the work and managing the time in which way do the work,” she stressed.   

For Moodley being in the top 10 is an amazing feeling. “When designing the garment, you don’t have to really think much about it, but seeing it on a model and going through the different stages in the competition really hits home and you come to the realisation that I made this, I feel thrilled. It is such an awesome experience and I’m so glad to be a part of it, having so much of exposure and publicity is really awesome,” he said proudly.  

DUT’s Fashion and Textiles lecturer Gideon said: “The third-year students had begun a project set by myself using a simple base fabric being calico and allowing handwork and ethical dying with natural pigments to elevate the status of the fabric. With this in mind I felt the VDJ theme of Butterflies suited this approach as butterflies emerge from simple/beige cocoons into a magnificent butterfly. Having to work as I have always done via whatsapp with my students proved easy to communicate their ideas and progress and led to the final creation that were selected to proudly represent DUT at the VDJ 2020.”   

VDJ’s Fashion Programme Director Tiffany Prior said, the standard was exceptional, which is remarkable considering that the students did not have access to their lecturers or the equipment and machinery at their colleges. She also added that the judges could see the impact that design mentors like Gideon and Gian Paulo Brezolin had in the high standard of the DUT entries. 

Being part of the top 10, each finalist receives R2000. The winner will receive R10 000 in cash with the compliments of Schweppes and Gold Circle, a R5000 gift voucher courtesy of Gateway Theatre of Shopping, a Samsung Galaxy S9 and a Kryolan gift voucher valued at R2500. The winner will also be flown to and accommodated in Johannesburg to attend the South African Fashion Week in April 2021. This prize will also include airport transfers, ground transport and meals for a 4 nights / 5-day stay. The first runner-up will receive R3000 in cash with the compliments of Schweppes and Gold Circle, a R2000 gift voucher courtesy of Gateway Theatre of Shopping and a R1800 gift voucher courtesy of Kryolan. The second runner-up will receive R2000 in cash with the compliments of Schweppes and Gold Circle, a R1000 gift voucher courtesy of Gateway Theatre of Shopping and a R1200 gift voucher courtesy of Kryolan. 

Pictured: One of the finalists, Goodness Sithole with her model showcasing her design. (Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media) 

Waheeda Peters 

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