If you have ever wondered whether African designers from the continent can hold their own, independent of Arise Magazine, at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week New York, you need not wonder anymore. On September 9th, 2012, South Africa’s leading designer, David Tlale, made his stand-alone debut at the prestigious fashion week.
Prior to the show, Tlale explained that his “show in New York is not simply about translating South African design for a North American audience—but rather the transcendence of work through and beyond cultural nuances, and the delivery of that work to the global consumer.”
To that end, the collection he showed via an installation styled presentation, communicated what he was trying to say effectively. It was progressive and frankly a fusion of Asian, African, Middle Eastern and American cultures with the David Tlale signature for a little drama. Whether it was the ‘gele’ (head gear) common in Nigeria, West Africa, the heavy embroidered shirt and pants particularly worn by men in the India, or long yellow gowns with deep/plunging neck lines, Tlale had a unique perspective that said, “you can’t place me or the women and men I dress in a box. Fashion and what I do is so much more than that.” We got his message.
Indeed what separates Tlale from many and continues to place him in a path of global recognition is that he truly pushes the envelope when it comes to innovation in fashion; yet manages to keep that delicate balance of creativity meets functionality.
It might explain why the likes of Fern Mallis, Founder of New York Fashion Week, and celebrated fashion critic, Suzy Menkes, made time to attend his debut event.
Tlale released the statement below to Ladybrille Magazine, after showing at New York Fashion Week.
“In the beginning I was a ball of nerves. Worried about how the collection was going to be received. I can now safely say that I am relieved and quite pleased. The reviews have been absolutely amazing. Showcasing at a platform like New York Fashion Week has long been a dream of mine and I’m very happy that the New York market was receptive to my collection. My staff worked very hard on this collection in a very short space of time. We showcased a very urban Africa. The collection exuded elegance and sophistication. I called it “Transcendence,” because I wanted to show a migration from the “perceived” Africa to a more modern and transcendental work that goes through and beyond cultural nuances and the delivery of that work to the global consumer.” — David Tlale
Watch highlights of the show.
Photocredit: Getty Images/MBFWNY