The third annual Free State Fashion Week was launched at a stylish, lavish affair, held at the Windmill Conference Centre on Friday, 13 July 2018. The guest list included local fashion leaders and socialites like Nadine Barkhuizen, Tony Peng and Gerhardt Shebe. Representatives from a few government departments also showed face, with the executive mayor, Olly Mlamleli, delivering the key note address. The evening was MC’ed by TV anchor, Palesa Chubisi.
The evening started off with the Chief Executive Officer, Candy Smith, sharing her journey of how she was sponsored by an old couple in Welkom who saw her talent and potential, to go study fashion design as her parents could not afford the fees.
“My vision has always been to teach people the skill of fashion, the art of making money out of your talent because I was sick and tired of seeing fashion designers suffering like I did,” said Smith. This year she realised this dream even further with the opening of the Free State Fashion Hub, which is the only accredited fashion design school in the province.
“My dreaming went beyond fashion week, because you can have fashion week but at the end of the day, it’s not enough. Where do the designers end up? We have a nice fashion parade, then go home and forget about it. I then sat with Zoureka Smith who was running Victoria Toma. When she heard my plan she said, “Wow, I just want to lecture,” and she actually closed her school, and adopted my vision. She’s one of my lecturers now, together with Tshidi Ramanamane. We opened this year without funding,” added Smith.
The evening’s programme included a detailed description from Zoureka Smith about what the FS Fashion Hub has to offer. Two students, Rorisang Ratsiu and Melvin Jaftha, then shared their educational experience of the school with guests.
Fashion designers who had previously taken part in the fashion week shared how their lives had changed, and what fashion week did to catapult their careers. They included Charissa Williams, Motlalepule Motlolometsi, Tshepo Mareka as well as the 2017 Free State Fashion Week Designer of the Year title holder, Gerhardt Shebe.
The evening was concluded by a few encouraging words from the mayor, Olly Mlamleli, who said she respects designers for putting up with difficult customers, who often forget about the work they have to put in, but reiterated that she never forgets to pay for their service. “I’m therefore committing to paying the fees for five students for their full course so that we are proud to say this is what we have produced as a province,” said Mlamleli.
Fashion Week will be taking place on 20 until 22 September 2018, with all events taking place at Windmill Casino. To stay updated, follow the hashtag #FSFW18 on social media. – Seithati Semenokane