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In an energetic statement that the future of the fashion design industry in KwaZulu-Natal is in great hands, judges laboured to sort through 110 entries to decide on the semi-finalists in the Hollywoodbets Durban July Young Designer Award presented by Durban Fashion Fair on Tuesday afternoon.

Set the task of designing a raceday outfit inspired by the theme “Show Me The Honey”, students from fashion design technikons and colleges across the province overwhelmed the high-powered panel of judges with the quantity and quality of their submissions.

The Hollywood Foundation created a real buzz in the student design community last month by announcing that an incentive pool of R100 000 had been added to the competition with the winner getting R50 000 in bursary or tuition fee assistance from the foundation, the runner-up R30 000 and the third-placed student R20 000.

“We saw a lot of great work from the students, particularly in the way they interpreted the theme,” explained Hollywood Foundation ambassador Derrick Mhlongo.

“They did amazing research and impressed us with the use of fabrics that clearly portrayed the expression of their designs,” he added.

The competition, which has gained national acclaim for having kick-started the careers of many luminary fashion designers, has become known as a platform for students to express their creativity unhindered by client and commercial demands, and to show off their imagination and technical prowess in constructing their final garments.

With most of the colleges submitting record entries as they enjoyed getting back into the swing of nurturing their design students after two frustrating years of restrictions, the standard of the entries made a big impression on the industry experts convened to judge the huge entry and reduce it to twenty five semi-finalists.

“The standard of the entries was just fantastic,” said fashion programme director Tiffany Prior. “It was great to see all the colleges so invested and showing their best work. The passion of the students and their models was just so evident.

“The future of the KZN fashion industry is definitely in very good hands,” she added.

The twenty five semi-finalists in the Hollywoodbets Durban July Young Designer Award presented by Durban Fashion Fair are:
Princess Buthulezi (SG International Group), Tumelo Masango, Sinqobile Nzama, Ismael Mchunu, Thandeka Madikizela (Durban University of Technology), Ndaba Philile, Lembe Ndlovu, Snenhlanhla Ntuli, Nhlanhla Dlamini, Nandi Mkhize, Sebenzile Cecilia, Slindile Ndlovu (Pietermaritzburg School of Fashion), Phila Chonco, Aphiwe Nyawose, Thandeka Zwane, Vuyisile Nguzane, Nomfundo Ngubane, Sibongile Madela (Lindiwe Khuzwayo Academy of Fashion Design), Erin Seymour (Erayidi Fashion School), Amahle Mdlodane, Phumla Nkosi, Siyathokoza Zikhali, Simuthandile Mvelase (Fezile Fashion Skills Academy), Kenda Ntumba, Nonjabulo Khanyile (Eldonai School of Fashion).