Where fashion and the environment meet

In amongst all of the high fashion on the runway at our Fashion Show 2011, there was a truly unique and special outfit which wowed our guests.  The green beaded suit not only merged the best of modern and ancient techniques to create a Mzanzi twist on the hip suit, but the outfit has its own amazing story.

The suit has recently been completed by award-winning, Durban-based designer Terrence Bray, who pieced together over 400 individual pattern pieces to create the Green Suit, sponsored by Green Office to raise awareness of environmental issues. Each piece has been hand beaded by over 40 members of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre’s Woza Moya group in Kwa Zulu Natal. The craft group at Woza Moya is made up of people living with HIV, who create craft items to generate desperately-needed income.

“We wanted to make something spectacular that speaks strongly about green issues,” says Paula Thomson, manager of Woza Moya craft shop. “We wanted an artwork that would stop people in their tracks, while getting them to think about our environment, and then get them to make one positive change in their life.”

The suit, weighing in at 8kg, was worn with flair by model Vincent Ntunja. The outfit was topped off with the hand-beaded hat, and green staff. The beadwork is so fine that Jenni Button, founder of Philosophy, one of the designers on the catwalk at the Positive Heroes show, plans to collaborate with Woza Moya on the creation of a line of beaded evening bags.

Vincent was joined on stage by the voices of the Treatment Action Campaign choir, singing the Positive Heroes theme song ‘You’re Extraordinary’. In addition, they were joined by just some of the amazing individuals who are working hard to change attitudes to HIV in South Africa, our own fabulous Heroes.

We were also honoured to be joined by staff of Yabonga, a Cape Town-based non-governmental organisation which provides education, support and skills development to empower women, men and children who are infected or directly affected by HIV/AIDS. This is the workplace of some of our Heroes, Ana Mdoda, Khuthala Makeleni and Noncedo Gulwa.

As the choir and the Heroes danced down the runway, there was hardly a foot in the house that wasn’t tapping, or a face that wasn’t smiling. Truly, it was a joyful celebration of the zest for life exhibited by people living with HIV.

Woza Moya: www.hillaids.org.za

Yabonga: www.yabonga.com