Being a fashion designer or being involved in any aspect that relates to fashion has always been a childhood dream of mine, I can almost recall my first year of high school during a life orientation class where the learning outcome for day had something to do with careers. Although a distant memory, I remember my teacher spoke words in the lines of, high school being a step up an inclining staircase to the doors of our futures (poetic and profound –well, at least I thought then). During that lesson, we had to compose a piece on what we wanted to be when we left high school and confer what we wrote to the entire class. You see, primitive to the experience of observing attentively over a number of years while mother slaved on that singer sewing machine and utilising the cut outs to create ensembles for my younger sister Barbie, it was with no diffidence that fashion design would be my destined choice. I have no recollection on what exactly the written piece embodied, I however do remember struggling to spell Dolcé and Sun Goddess being at the apex off my endless list of favourite designers.
(kindly place your judgement elsewhere - it was after all 2001).
I sat there, passively listening to how everyone wanted to became a doctor, a teacher, a policemen and any other conventional profession that comes to brood. It was now my turn and there was this air of excitement within me as career path was dissimilar from the rest. I spoke with such paroxysm of my love for fashion, I named every designer I came across on the distressed issue of Bona and Drum magazine I borrowed from my neighbours and closed of with a phrase that contained the word passion and fashion. There was an awkward moment of silence before a few began to applaud. The applause slowly developed into laughter which led to whispers about my sexuality, The bell rang and I was the first to leave the door.
The laughters and whispers of my sexuality lead to study a contrary field to fashion (Physics). Today I am being haunted by self-crushed dreams as gape at opportunities such as the ELLE Rising Star Design Award pass me by.
This year the search is not just countrywide, though – it’s continent-wide as ELLE and Mr Price are casting their fashion net wider and have opened up the competition to young designers across Africa.
This year the search is not just countrywide, though – it’s continent-wide as ELLE and Mr Price are casting their fashion net wider and have opened up the competition to young designers across Africa. ELLE, Mr Price and AFI are passionate about nurturing talent and giving Africa’s young designers the tools and the platform they need. The prize therefore includes a two-week mentorship programme at the Mr Price head office in Durban where the winner will be exposed to the complete retail cycle, from trend forecasting to merchandising, and redesign a pre-selected range in collaboration with Mr Price to will be sold in select Mr Price stores.
Similarly, the ELLE Rising Star will spend two weeks at the ELLE office with the ELLE editor and her fashion team. In addition, the title comes with a R30 000 cash prize from Mr Price and the opportunity to show a range at the 2015 ELLE Rising Star Design Awards with R7 000 from Mr Price to help fund the range. The 2014 ELLE Rising Star will furthermore participate in the AFI Next Generation programme and show a spring/summer collection as part of the programme. AFI’s Business Development Manager, Bella Cebekhulu, says, “AFI is excited about joining forces with ELLE. The award and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa are perfectly aligned in our strategies and goal to nurture new talent, something that AFI holds very close to our heart.”
Speaking about this new collaboration with AFI and Mr Price, ELLE South Africa’s publisher Gisèle Wertheim Aymés says, “AFI is an excellent platform to develop a more inclusive African design award for ELLE. We’re also delighted to be working again with Mr Price, as our main sponsor and having the opportunity to showcase our young ELLE Rising Star Design finalists at Africa Fashion Week in October 2014. This is an exciting new collaboration which we hope will open up new avenues and opportunities for all of us across our continent.”
Aspiring young designers wanting to follow in the footsteps of previous winners David Tlale, Tiaan Nagel, Anisa Mpungwe and most recently Nicholas Coutts need to note the following:
- Entrants have to be a final-year fashion design student or a fashion graduate with no more than three years design experience. Anyone currently employed by a South African or African fashion retailer won’t be able to enter.
- Entrants must have been born in an African country or South Africa and should also hold legal citizenship within this country.
Download your entry form here and remember the last date for submitting entries is the 11th August 2014.