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The big day is looming and ELLE and Mr Price cannot wait to announce the winner of the 2013 Rising Star Design Award. As you know, we’ve been on the hunt for someone who in the fashion know, who has a discerning eye and an opinion to help decide who will win this prestigious award. And, we’ve found her! Put your hands together for our reader judge – Zesipho Mncwango.


What’s your 9-5?

I’m currently in my second year of a Bcom in Marketing Management at the University of Pretoria. When I’m not working towards my degree, I choose to hone my skills on being awesome instead. I spend a lot more time reading up on and learning as much I can about the ‘Business of Fashion’.

What excites you about this year’s Rising Star 2013 finalists’ work?

I am so excited to see how vastly different each candidate’s collection is from the next. I love that I can already deduce so many things about each designer and their signature design and creative style just by looking at their collections. It’s easy to see where each designer drew inspiration from.





I also love that I see the individual in each collection and a uniqueness and craftsmanship in each.


Why did you want to sit on this year’s judging panel?

The ELLE Rising Star Design Award is in essence, our local industry’s premier platform for unearthing our country’s most promising young talent. To know that I had a hand in helping to realise the dreams of a young designer and finalist whose talent, skill and progress shows them to be deserving of this year’s title would be truly incredible.

I’m learning as much as I can about what it takes to create a successful brand within the SA Fashion Industry and to be able to learn this, firsthand from industry heavyweights like Jackie Burger, Poppy Evans, Christiaan Gabrielle du Toit and Malcolm Klûk, Amber Jones, Joanne Frédéric, and Malibongwe Tyilo as well as last year’s Rising Star winner Jane Elizabeth Kotze, is the kind of learning experience most would only dream of.



What do you bring to the judging panel?

I plan on hopefully bringing a voice of this industry’s long-term future, willing to question all status quos and redefine what young talent should be. I want to focus on lending a voice from a commercial and marketing perspective, looking at what and who needs to be put forward in order to allow for a commercially successful and strong designer brand to come to life.

How would you describe your personal style?

I’m incredibly adventurous with my personal style, I have to try some looks at least once before I decide whether they’re for me or not. I always love looking feminine but not too girly. I also love the idea of marrying vintage pieces with a sense of modernity. I use my style as a reflection of whatever state of mind I’m in.

What do you love about this designer search?

I love that this designer search sets out to discover young talent, thinkers and creatives and makes their dreams come true. I love that it’s not just about the pretty but also about business success and launching a career.


Local designers you are loving?

I must give credit to a designer that I recently rediscovered after reading about her journey through this very same competition; Sindiso Khumalo is an absolute favourite, I always think she makes clothes for the fearless woman who never shies away from being bold. She’s mastered the art of making graphic prints sophisticated and flattering and I love how architectural her designs are.


And of course, there is David Tlale (another ELLE Talent winner); he creates art in motion. I also love any Gavin Rajah and Thula Sindi garments; obviously, these men just understand how to make a woman look extraordinarily beautiful.


What do you think the SA fashion industry needs right now?

What this industry needs is innovative commercial solutions to the age-old problem of how to get international industries to think of our own industry as an equal.

What makes you stop and stare?

When someone walks into a room and you can tell that they are not trying to impress – they have a certain confidence and don’t’ care what others think.

Trend you’re loving for summer?

All white. It’s polished, fresh and beautiful.

Stella McCartney s/s 2013


Valentino s/s 2013


Want more Rising Star 2013? Pick up your November issue of ELLE and turn to page 40 to find out about our finalists or click here.

Photographs: supplied, SDR Photo, Justin Polkey, Cindy Taylor, Vogue Uk.

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