NPO takes fashion industry forward

Are you an aspiring model or fashion designer who has been trying tirelessly to get into the industry?

The Creative Angels Fashion Benefit (CAFB) is an NPO geared towards uplifting youth and other creatives in the fashion industry.

I was recently invited to the CAFB held at the One & Only in the V&A Waterfront where I got the opportunity to see local designers and models flaunting their fashion on the runway.

I caught up with Prenessa Nalliah who started the organisation while studying architecture at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in February 2012.

Prenessa said CAFB’s vision is to create a “thriving and united” South Africa.

“We aim to achieve this by breaking down the stereotypes and stigmas in our fashion and artistic industries and evolving it into an inclusive one where youth can safely dream their biggest dreams; and receive encouragement without compromising their core values.”

Prenessa, who works for a communications company in Durban, said she has always been a “jeans and sneakers” kind of gal.

“High fashion did not catch my attention until I was studying architecture and I saw the hours and hours that goes into creating any form of design; the outpouring of a person’s heart and soul into a creative art form which must still adhere to regulatory standards and please the customer,” she said.

Prenessa said she has developed a respect for independent designers and she sees the industry as one that offers some of the greatest growth opportunities for youth especially in South Africa.

She said the strength of South Africa’s fashion economy has largely deteriorated due to cheaper imports. “We would like to restore it beyond its former glory and to bridge the gaps between the dreamers and achievers in the industry,” she said.

It was extremely refreshing to see women with realistic body types take to the ramp as we are constantly bombarded by images of unrealistic standards of beauty which eventually lead to identity issues.

CAFB offers fashion model training to youth from all walks of life.

“There are no height; weight or ethnic preferences, just real people earning their angel wings. We don’t believe in eating ice and drinking water to stay slim. We also offer a unique fashion business development platform for local emerging labels,” said Prenessa.

At the fashion show I was able to chat to many interesting designers and for close to four hours My Attire World was completely immersed in all things fashion. I also had the opportunity to go backstage and to the green room where the models and designers were nervously preparing to hit the runway.

Fashion designer Shireen Stanbull of Retreat, who has been in the industry for the past 15 years, showcased her latest collection at the CAFB, to the delight of the crowd.

“I started as a machinist; worked as a grader, then a pattern maker and finally I became a full-time designer, while studying part-time for five years,” she said.

She said CAFB has helped her business tremendously.

“Being a part of CAFB has helped me in so many ways. They hold you accountable for deadlines, they market your label and because of CAFB I have had my first successful fashion show. I will continue to be a part of CAFB for a long time, it’s like a newfound family,” she said.

And what’s on my fashion radar at the moment you ask?

With the mercury steadily rising, I must say Lady Gaga inspired statement suits for women are on my list.

I adore how these suits topple the concept of femininity.

I recently purchased a white blue striped, linen suit, which I absolutely love. It’s easy to wear; you look very stylish without having to try too hard and if you are on a time crunch you can just put your hair up in a bun and off you go.

Simple and sophisticated is definitely how I am stepping out this summer.

Next month will be the last fashion entry I make for the year before the December holidays. Send your fashion tips and advice to mika.williams@inl.co.za To get involved with CAFB email prenessa@creativeangelsinfo.com; naven@peranasetdesign.com or devashnie@peranasetdesign.com