An SA design icon is poised for the spotlight on the African stage

An SA design icon is poised for the spotlight on the African stage

PETER TROMP had a chat with iconic fashion designer DAVID TLALE, South Africa’s star representative on the global fashion industry stage, about his involvement in this weekend’s BET Experience Africa.

You’re no stranger to international fashion platforms, so what does it mean to you to be a part of the BET Experience Africa?
For me it’s a humbling experience to become part of the BET Experience Africa. I would say the journey continues from the BET Experience in LA and also the BET Awards that we had, so it’s really amazing to see how the movement keeps growing and how BET is taking over Africa. I’m excited to say that my journey with BET has just begun.

What can fans of the David Tlale brand expect to see ensemble-wise from you at this exciting occasion?
My fans can expect drama, celebration and also a lot of fun. We will play around with a little bit of bridal embellishment so it’s really going to be super fun.

You’re the first African designer to have a solo show at NY Fashion week, which has become a tradition, alongside all major fashion weeks. What will you do different at the BET Experience Africa fashion show?
At the BET Experience Africa Fashion show, I will be showcasing a capsule collection of bridal pieces and just a continuation of where we have been, from the International stage, to where we are right now and ensuring that the David Tlale brand and signature is seen and experienced and more than anything, affirming our presence on the Continent.

How influenced are you and your sense of style, by American popular culture?
American popular culture plays a major role in the way we design our clothing. It’s about how you feel when you wear the clothing and being able to play around with the designed pieces. Infusing American popular culture and an African aesthetic plays a major role in who we are as a fashion brand and our trajectory towards African prints with a Global appeal in our pieces.

What defines true design for the David Tlale brand?
True design is defined by a designer who can actually conceptualise from the initial concept to the final product. It is about telling a story, where you create a picturesque journey for your audience. It is about taking people on a roller coaster of emotions, making sure you leave them with their eyebrows raised and feeling like they want to walk away in a David Tlale design.

The likes of Rich Mnisi will also form part of this show. What are your thoughts on African local designers of this moment?
I believe there’s a rise in local designers and the likes of Rich Mnisi are going take the African continent by storm. There is a vast majority of young designers in Africa and it is about time that we celebrate our own and start recognising and rewarding these designers. We need to ensure that we start supporting our products that are made in Africa, by South Africans for the Global market.

Are there any fashion icons, locally and/or internationally, that you look up to?
Fashion Icons that I look up to locally are the likes of Black Coffee, Marian Vasler, Clive Randal, and my biggest style icon is Lenny Kravitz.

What is the chief source of your inspiration, or is it constantly shifting?
My main source of inspiration is Life. The ups and downs we experience on a daily basis, the music and the mood. Everything that I revolve around plays a major role in my design journey.

If you could be active as a designer in any decade, which period from the past would you choose and why?
I would have to choose the current decade, because of all the opportunities we have around us. I appreciate the past and the designs that were trendy at the time, but I think we live in a day and age now where we are allowed to experience a lot more with what we have. Technology has also played a major part in my designs, as it allows us to keep updated on what is HOT at the moment in the fashion scene and allows us to play a lot more with our creativity and designs.

What can we expect from David Tlale in 2016?
Firstly, it is continuing the positive journey we are on with our brand and allowing people to feel closer to our designs by ensuring our products are available online and globally. We also want continue allowing our fans and people around the world to experience and appreciate our designs. Watch this space – our journey has just began.

* BET Experience Africa is taking place at the Ticketpro Dome on Saturday, December 12. Flip to page 5 for the full scoop on Africa’s biggest lifestyle festival and all of its major attractions.