A designer’s first show is special. Their first presentation is usually produced on a shared design school graduate platform, or sometimes independently staged. To have your first show listed as part of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg schedule, alongside your peers and your shared mentor, is something truly remarkable. This year David Tlale, a designer known almost as well for his unpredictable MO as for his extraordinary talent, gave his interns this incredible opportunity. In the world of fashion, the idea of training through mentorship is too often undervalued, with many people believing that a talented designer should do well and will do well on their own right from the start, but nothing develops creative ability like experience. I don’t know about you, but I think learning from a cache of experience like Tlale’s isn’t a bad way to go.
Tlale’s pool of interns put on quite the show, but for us, Ayanda Mthembu walked away with the title of star pupil. The style story in his collection is found in the relationship between the constructed volume & the careful, deliberate cut, evidence that Ayanda’s time at David Tlale’s studio in the Maboneng Precinct has been spent in attentive study. However, that is not to say the young designer’s signature was lost in his mentor’s visible influence.
This collection showed us a designer with a definite point of view. His perspective is one that values precision, symmetry, & design details shaped by the manipulation of lines and borders, with sparing use of colour allowing those aspects to take centre stage. It’s an interesting place to start, and we are honestly excited to see how this perspective evolves as Ayanda’s creative journey continues.
by Modupe Oloruntoba