Last weekend we had the Zimbabwe Fashion week at the VW premises. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event but I heard that it was a good event. The designers that showcased put a lot of effort into their work and it was of a high standard.
BY HEATHER R
However, I managed to track down and interview one of the young, up and coming designers, Rumbidzai Ngwarai (RN) who showcased her designs for the very first time. Below are excerpts:
HR: What is the name of your label?
RN: Diella Reaux, pronounced “Della Rue”. Della is Latin for worshipper of God and my name is Rumbidzai. Reaux was just something fun to add at the end.
HR: How old are you?
RN: Twenty-four. I turned 24 last Saturday.
HR: What did you study in university?
RN: I studied Accounting and Economics at Monash University.
HR: So why fashion?
RN: I love fashion. I think fashion really is my heart. It’s what I was born to do.
HR: What are you doing currently, job wise?
RN: I am working as an accountant for the Zimbabwe Agriculture Society.
HR: So why are you doing that when fashion is your passion?
RN: To raise money to start my clothing line.
HR: Do you have any formal training?
RN: No, not at the moment (laughs).
HR: When did you start designing?
RN: I started conceptualising the brand end of 2009 and working on how I wanted to proceed with the clothing line. This year was my first time showcasing my designs.
HR: Do you design for women only?
RN: No, women and men, but mainly women.
HR: Who is your target market?
RN: My target market is 18 to 30-year-olds but I do not necessarily limit myself beyond that.
HR: Who do you enjoy designing for?
RN: Women. It is more fun because with men there is only so much you can do whereas with women there are so many ways to experiment.
HR: How was your first time showcasing at the Fashion Week?
RN: It was quite an eye-opener because I had no idea of what to expect in terms of logistics and the level of preparation, but I think I managed to succeed.
HR: Were you happy with the standard of your work in comparison to the other designers?
RN: I was happy with my work especially because it was different from a lot of what was being showcased by other designers. A lot of the designs were Afro-centric and my clothing line is the only one that seemed to have an entirely Western style. There were a lot of geometric prints and lines in my collection.
HR: What lessons did you learn from fashion week?
RN: I learnt a lot in terms of preparation. I think preparation is key. I did two fittings, one on the actual day. I think in future I will have to do a lot more fittings prior to the event and know the models beforehand, probably months before the showcase. I learnt how to handle stress and pressure because there was a lot of it. I also learnt how to appreciate other people’s work.
HR: How would you describe your range and where do you draw your inspiration from?
RN: My range is elegant, modern, sophisticated but fun. I do not limit myself in terms of where I derive my inspiration from, so it can come from anything.
HR: Do you have a shop where people can buy your stuff?
RN: I am currently working on getting one so I can start selling my line from there, hopefully I will have one by next year.
HR: Do you wear a lot of your own clothes?
RN: I am starting to now. Previously I was just focusing on making the samples of my designs.
HR: What is your personal style?
RN: I like to dress sophisticated, modern and elegant but still have some edge to it. Sometimes I feel overdressed so I have to tone it down. If I had it my way I would dress extravagantly all the time.
HR: So why do you tone it down?
RN: Because of the places we go to. I cannot go to work and be running around in a crazy top. Sometimes because of work, I have to maintain a formal image.
HR: What are your three favourite trends this season?
RN: Peplum (fitted top that flares at the waist), geometric prints and lines, which feature a lot in my collection and though I think it is slowly fading out, colour blocking.
HR: What do you think are five wardrobe must-haves for the ladies?
RN: A black pencil skirt, a nice pair of black heels, can be peep toe, something that you can basically wear anywhere, a unique accessory, could be a necklace, bangle or pair of earrings no one else will have, a fitted blazer in any colour, a black trench coat.
HR: What are the summer trends for men?
RN: Lately, from what I have been seeing, there are a lot of page boy trends, the hats especially, knee-length shorts, asymmetrical collared coats. It depends though because I do not think that a lot of Zimbabwean men are brave enough to dress like that so even if you prescribe trends like prints and neon blazers which are hot at the moment, they will not wear that.
HR: Given their conservative nature, what would you recommend?
RN: Now that just limits it to the normal black, white, navy blue, grey palette. They may wear coloured shirts but not blazers. I will sum it up to page boy hats, short sleeved trench coats, loafers, shorts and short sleeved shirts in a different style. There are a lot of short sleeved shirts with the slim belts on the waist by the fashion designers. Men should try and play with colour. To play it safe they can do it with pastels like grey shorts and a pastel shirt. It is toned down colour blocking.
HR: Any parting words of style counsel?
RN: Develop your own style. If you decide to copy a trend, personalise it by adding something that is unique to you.