Student can make it a double for NMMU

Herolene Uithaler

YET another Nelson Mandela Bay fashion design student is a finalist in a national magazine’s competition and is in line to win R25000 in cash and other prizes next month.

NMMU student Kelly Esterhuyse won the contest last year, and now Gabrielle Lily Darnè – a BTech student – has made it through to the last lap of the Elle Rising Star competition, for which she had to submit eight sketches in a storyboard format.

“I would love to win,” said Darnè, who revealed that when she heard that she was a finalist “it was crazy. I was jumping around like I won the lottery”.

While citing international fashion labels like Sass & Bide as creative touch points, Darnè draws inspiration from the arts and culture of the Ndebele people and incorporates African art and colours throughout her range.

Darnè said: “I was inspired by South African colours [in my range] as well as Ndebele huts, beads, shaping and placing of colours.”

As opposed to black or white, she uses grey throughout her line as, she says, “it shows diversity”.

The Elle awards is an annual competition in which up-and-coming fashion designers are given the opportunity to showcase their range in Johannesburg, if they reach the finals.

The eight finalists have already presented four completed outfits for judging and will showcase their remaining four at final judging next month.

The winner will launch their own clothing label exclusively to Mr Price, which along with leading professionals provided by Elle magazine, will provide the skills necessary to succeed in the fashion industry.

Darnè describes her range for the competition as “comfortable, loose and multifunctional”, and considers her collection unique as she has constructed it so that sections can be added or removed to give different colour ways.

She said: “The garments will give the customer the opportunity to interact with their clothing.

“If I win, most of my designs will be African inspired with a modern [spin],” she said.

She uses materials like mohair, sponsored by Mohair Spinners South Africa, as well as fabric bought in Port Elizabeth. Darnè is the third NMMU student to make it to the finals of the Elle contest. She joins the likes of Esterhuyse, who won last year, and Esté van der Merwe.

Darnè was one of two students who entered the competition in her class and although she was the only one chosen, her peers joined in celebrating her achievement.

The finalists will show their completed ranges on September 13.

The winner will receive R25000 and mentorship from Mr Price, Gordon School of Business Science and Talk Shop’s Savannah Erasmus.

The winner will redesign items from their range that will go on sale in selected Mr Price stores, and Mr Price will contribute R6500 to the cost of making up a range to be exhibited at the Elle Fashion Awards next year.

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