Dubbed the Anna Wintour of South Africa’s fashion industry, Lucilla Booyzen is the founder and director of the prestigious South African Fashion Week (SAFW). In the early 1990s, Booyzen was an already established fashion producer who visited European Fashion Weeks, when she felt it was necessary that South Africa create its own fashion week to develop and express its cultural identity to the world, one that welcomed diversity.
By 1997, the former teacher and ex-fashion model launched SAFW as the only fashion hub of its kind on the continent, with a focus on elevating fashion into an industry able to play a meaningful role in the South African economy. Two years later, the event saw the first black South African designers on the runway: Bonga Bengu, Buyani Khoza, Colleen Dubane, Hayley Rasool, Scele Ntshalintshali and Thabani Mavundla.
By 2000, due to an increased interest from the public and design community in the event, SAFW moved to the famed Sandton Convention Centre. By 2004, SAFW through its partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture launched the Fashion Fusion Project, adding highly skilled craft to the process of fashion design. Booyzen has since created other fashion initiatives including, in 2012, an agency called The Fashion Agent, a wholesale platform that connected South African Designer Collections to boutiques; and in 2014, an online store – Runway Online – another channel employed to grow the SA fashion design industry.
Despite all the highs and lows of trailblazing a tough terrain by pioneering the country’s first and leading fashion week, Booyzen’s mission has not changed. Twenty-one (21) years later, her goal is still to create jobs through building the creative fashion design industry in South Africa that can play a meaningful role in the South African economy.
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