Uitenhage designer nets R20,000 prize

Design by Thembani Selani
Design by Thembani Selani
Image: Tim Wilson

The first day of the third annual Mandela Bay Fashion Week ended on a high note for a Uitenhage-based designer who walked away with a R20,000 cash prize after winning the Amarula Challenge – a first for the affair.

Thembani Selani was among five local designers who were selected to attend design classes at Nelson Mandela University, where they learned to print their designs as a part of the Amarula challenge.

The designers were challenged with creating five garments inspired by the elements of the Amarula brand – the Amarula fruit, the tree (on the brand’s logo), Africa and the brand’s colours.

Selani showcased a simple men’s and women’s ready-towear range which incorporated several shades including white, gold and mustard.

Distell coastal events manager Nontsikelelo Ndlovu, who was part of the judging panel on behalf of Amarula, said: “[Selani has] got the instruction to incorporate our brand into his designs spot on and I like that he made ready-to-wear and accessible garments that can easily be unisex.

“Even though he used male models [for some] of the designs, when I saw them, I realised I could also wear them as a woman. “His ability to add a unisex element to his designs proves him very modern and that made his work stand out and be memorable.”

Selani showcased his brand at the East London Fashion Week in September.

The designer is a fan favourite whose work attracted loud cheers from spectators at last year’s Mandela Bay Fashion Week.

The self-taught designer, whose sketching ability came as a natural talent, took to the sewing machine after he completed matric but could not afford to further his studies.

He taught himself the basics of making garments and never looked back.

Selani was visibly surprised and could not contain his excitement as friends and supporters surrounded and congratulated him.

“I know that after [Mandela Bay Fashion Week] in October, the fashion industry will know who Thembani Selani is,” he was quoted as saying in the fashion week magazine.

The final show of the Mandela Bay Fashion Week starts at 6.30pm on Saturday at the Tramways Building.

The show will feature designers from Port Elizabeth, East London, the Free State, Gauteng and Limpopo.

Sonwabile Ndamase, who designed former president Nelson Mandela’s shirts and was Winnie Madikizla-Mandela’s designer, will close off the show with his Mandela Centenary range.