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Leading Fashion Designers' Creations on Show at Miss South Africa Pageant

Some of South Africa's premier fashion designers will be dressing the Top 12 finalists in one of the most fashion-forward Miss South Africa pageants ever seen when the Diamond Jubilee spectacular takes place on Sunday, May 27.

In yet another exciting change introduced by the Miss South Africa Organisation this year, the live audience and viewers at home will be able to see each finalists featured in an exclusive once off designer evening gown during the pageant finale that represents the best and most creative fashion in this country.

Six design houses have each joined forces with two finalists for the glamourous evening wear sequence. They are Anel Botha; Biji La Maison; Galluzzi e Gini; Orapeleng Modutle; Salomie Couture and Warrick Gautier.

Says Miss SA creative director Werner Wessels: "This year we wanted to put the emphasis on each contestant's individual style to ensure that she feels her most beautiful and confident on stage. We wanted to empower each contestant by giving her the freedom and responsibility to collaborate with one of South Africa's premier designers to reflect her personality and really show South Africa who she is."

Orapeleng Modutle

Orapeleng Modutle – who has been called a "designer to the stars" – will be designing gowns for Thandokazi Mfundisi and Tamarin Bensch.

"My creations for them are a continuation of our recent collection Princesses Beyond the Grave, inspired by legendary fashion icons who have passed on. I have designed the dresses as I would a red-carpet gown – both need to make a statement and show character. I am delighted to be making my Miss South Africa design debut," he says.

Anél Botha of Anél Botha Couture is no stranger to the Miss South Africa pageant and dressed both Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters and Refilwe Mthimunye at the Miss Universe pageants. She will be dressing Margo Fargo and Karishma Ramdev.

She explains: "The main inspiration came from Margo and Karishma themselves. Their shining personalities and strength as people and competitors. They both have amazing figures and the style and cut of each of their designs is to accentuate their figures and the female form. We have also extensively researched the current trends in fashion to create these gowns. Miss South Africa is more than a beauty queen. It is not just about exterior beauty but about an inner strength, confidence and maturity."

Warrick Gautier

Cape Town based Warrick Gautier regularly travels between Cape Town, London and Paris to see his clients and is inspired by art, music, architecture and his French heritage. He is dressing Noxolo Ndebele and Tharina Botes.

"Noxolo's dress is inspired by the powerful natural African beauty we have around us. During a recent trip to Mauritius I took an underwater photograph of the ocean which has a magnificent colour and light, shimmering silver and blues when the sunlight shines through to the sea bed and corals, it's all very magical and I got my idea for her gown from this'" he says.

"I took inspiration from the beauty of the African sky at sunrise for Tharina's dress," he adds. "The shimmering tones of golds and silvers ignite a fresh and natural awakening of hope and opportunity. I have included crystal African wax prints. They both inspired me to create these pieces of African art."

Biji La Maison de Couture is responsible for the dresses of Anzelle von Staden and Bryoni Govender.

Reveals Biji: "The gowns I design for pageants tend to have a little more of a theatrical twist to them. In my mind they call for a little something extra. Both contestants had specific ideas for a pageant evening gown. As Anzelle is only one of the two blondes in the Top 12, I had the idea to just create some magic with the cool colours in the spectrum. This gown will have a distinctly glamorous 1920s vibe infused with a bit of a 1950s twist. Bryoni loved the idea of wearing a rose-gold colour to complement her skin tone. The silhouette will create and accent a fairly curvaceous flow with a lot of volume and lush movement of fabric. The metallic rose-gold colour will be so radiant and compliment her beautiful golden skin-tone perfectly. Her gown will be a beautiful modern classic with interesting contemporary textures."

Says Salomie du Plooy who will be dressing Danielle de Jager and Thulisa Keyi: "Pageant gowns need to be more extravagant and visually striking. A pageant gown needs to show off a contestant's figure to perfection and needs to enhance her on-stage personality. The gowns will be very modern and light with flowing fabrics that allow for movement. I really wanted to create something on trend and different. It's an immense privilege and the realisation of a dream for me to be designing gowns for Miss South Africa. Right from the beginning of my career one of my major aspirations was to design for Miss South Africa. Words cannot express how excited I am and how grateful I am to have the privilege of dressing these amazing women."

Galluzzi e Gini – started by Cristian Galluzzi and Alessio Gini in Italy in 2002 with their South African atelier launched two years later by Galluzzi and Claudio Sousa – will be dressing Akile Khoza and Tamaryn Green.

"As the finalists have been able to contribute to the design, they will be walking that stage highlighting their best features that they want South Africa to see. The two dresses couldn't be more different from each other. One is clean and modern and the other is full of movement and shine."

Melinda Bam

They say they didn't design the outfits any differently: "We researched what is happening in pageants around the world and we see that there is no difference between the fashion catwalks or the pageant ones. The audience wants to see current and fashion forward dresses when choosing their next Miss South Africa."

Odette Gomes has designed the outfits for the glittering opening sequence featuring the Top 12, while all swimwear is courtesy of the fabulous Bambshell Swimwear, a collaboration by former Miss South Africa Melinda Bam and designer Ciska Barnard.

Gomes – who is one of Cape Town's fashion industry leading lights and who has dressed former Miss World, Rolene Strauss – is a name synonymous with luxurious fabrics, stunning gowns and flattering designs.

"It is thrilling to be involved in the pageant as it celebrates its 60th jubilee; it embodies my ethos that all women should stand together, be strong and beautiful inside and out. I love designing for the personality, the woman herself, her body shape, her likes and dislikes. Each Miss South Africa finalist will bring her own personality to my garments," she explains.

Bambshell – an exclusive swimwear label to be relaunched in September – has produced a unique swimwear collection for the Miss South Africa 2018 pageant. The design house collaborated with the Africa Fashion House Academy led by Cynthia Umukoro on these pieces.

Says Bam who was Miss South Africa in 2011: "The contestants will be showing off the Afrocentric Beauty collection which showcases the colourful complexities of African culture in a celebration of colour and bold prints. Each print is custom designed for this range, and incorporates a mix of ethnic, tribal and modern prints on voluminous capes, juxtaposed against the sleek silhouettes of the swimsuits.

"We want each contestant to be a regal and vibrant vision of our rainbow nation, celebrating
cultural diversity with a kaleidoscope of colours. With this range, we also celebrate young talent by truly empowering individuals in our collaboration with AFH Academy in constructing the caftans."

The Diamond Jubilee spectacular takes place on Sunday, May 27 at Sun International's new flagship venue, the Sun Arena at Time Square, Pretoria. The glitzy spectacular will be televised live and simulcast on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161) from 17h00, as 12 of the country's most beautiful young women vie for the Miss South Africa crown.

Ticket for this year's pageant go on sale today at TicketPro and cost between R160 and R560.

www.ticketpros.co.za

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