NELSON Mandela Metropolitan University fashion design student LeighAnne Liebenberg finished last year with a trip to India where she was runner-up in an international design competition – and only narrowly missed out on winning the event.
B Tech graduate Liebenberg was South Africa’s national winner in the Society for Dyers and Colourists (SDC) International Design Competition in September last year, and part of her prize was an all-expenses paid trip to Mumbai for the finals in November. Liebenberg competed against students from 11 countries with an Irish student claiming the title, and an English designer her fellow runner-up.
“I entered a mohair design which was inspired by the Holi One colour festival,” said Liebenberg, who said India’s vibrant colours had sparked off her creative direction.
“When you think of India you think of colour and this celebration of colour was a visual inspiration.
“The outfit consisted of a cream knitted dress and a handwoven shawl, which was hand dyed with food colouring. All yarn used in my design was discarded yarn which would be considered waste as they were all small pieces of left-over yarn from the B Tech range sponsorship by Mohair South Africa, as well as blanket off-cuts sponsored by Hintervelt.”
Her design wowed first the South African then the international judges, who decided to award two runner-up prizes as well as a first prize.
“There were three judges and this year they battled to choose between the three of us, so this was the first year they had runners-up,” Liebenberg said.
She said her week-long visit to Mumbai was “amazing”.
“Despite the heart-breaking poverty, even the poorest of the poor still seem to be so joyful in how they wear their colour.”
2013 was the fifth consecutive year that NMMU has produced the national winner in the SDC International Design Competition, with previous winners including Laduma Ngxokolo, celebrated for his innovative Xhosa knitwear collections. Three of the previous NMMU winners went on to win the international competition, the brief for which was to demonstrate the creative, imaginative and original use of colour.
Liebenberg, who works at Richmond Hill designers Silver Spoon Clothing, said she hoped to establish her own knitwear label, Doris, later this year.
“My amazing lecturer is Gina Esterhuizen – she was my mentor not only for my B Tech year project, but also for the SDC competition. I really couldn’t have achieved what I have achieved without her support and encouragement.
“She was the one who really convinced me to turn my knitting style into a business venture.”