If you’ve been a reader for a long time, you probably know that I went through a hectic leopard print phase. There was a time where everything I owned was leopard print. My handbag, my cellphone cover, my wallet. I knew I had a legit problem when I wanted a leopard print car key from Walmart and I was prepared to do anything to get it into South Africa.
What’s interesting about leopard print is that at first glance, it seems like a difficult print to style but it isn’t. To quote Jenna Lyons, “As far as I’m concerned, leopard print is a neutral.”
My love for this magnificent print led me to The Villioti Fashion Institute: Future Fashion Leaders Showcase, which was sponsored by Wild Africa Cream. The event took place on Monday 18 November 2019 at the Hilton in Sandton. This fabulous event is an opportunity for the Villioti Fashion Institute students to showcase their hard work to their lecturers, friends and family and industry leaders like Pearl Thusi, Unathi and Edith Venter.
Earlier in the year, Wild Africa Cream presented a challenge to all the students where they had to design garments with the theme “Elegance Untamed” in mind. The garments needed to have at least one leopard print element on it and the top 12 looks would be presented at the year-end show.
I arrived at the hotel while everyone was still setting up and my first thought was: wow, I had the wrong idea about this. I came to the event thinking that it’s a “student event”, which in my head meant it would be low key. But there was absolutely nothing low key about it. From the music to the impressive runway to the fabulous makeup by MAC – all of it was true to Villioti’s promise to “make the ordinary extraordinary”.
I went backstage to watch the MAC makeup artists work their magic. The glitter looks MAC artist, Marco Louis Ackers, delivered were reminiscent of Euphoria – the show with the best makeup of the year in my humble opinion.
It was time to change into my outfit for the event. I was tempted to go full Snooki and deck myself out in head-to-toe leopard print but thought it would be too obvious for a Wild Africa event. I ended up choosing a cute Vero Moda dress which I teamed with a blush pink leopard print handbag.
Walking into the event the excitement was palpable. Some people were enjoying delicious Wild Africa Cream cocktails while others were seizing the opportunity to take a photo against the leopard-print Elegance Untamed backdrop.
There was a moment of silence as Pearl Thusi and Unathi entered the event in stunning Villioti gowns.
The show started with the first-year students’ designs, which made me feel very ashamed of the fact that as a 28-year-old-woman I can barely sew on a button. I loved the suits the first years designed and there was a certain Prada-esque element to it.
The second years delivered some drop-dead-gorgeous fashion, I mean – look at this dress!
There was no shortage of elegance at the show, as you can tell by these ultra-glam ball gowns the second years designed.
My leopard-print loving soul was ecstatic when it was time to see what the students came up with for the Elegance Untamed category, and I wasn’t disappointed. Joshua van der Venter’s look consisted of a bright yellow leopard print skirt with gold chains which was off-set by a black and white top. Elizabeth Abidemi Akinlabi dreams of owning a world-class African inspired ethical namesake brand, and based on her Elegance Untamed creation – I have no doubt that she’s going to achieve it! Another favourite was Monwabisi Kunene’s sheer top and leopard-print pants ensemble which I’d like to copy and paste into my wardrobe immediately.
“One of my favourite looks was the red cape and then I also loved the almost feather-like texture of Melissa Kotzé’s gown.” – Edith Venter
Can you see now why I want all of this in my wardrobe? From the top left, we have Melissa Kotzé’s gorgeous gown, a catsuit and cape ensemble by Dominika Slomczynska and a dramatic cape by Emrys Phillips.
Top from the left: Astrid Lines, Angelique Liebenberg and Zidah-Lee Burger’s designs. Bottom from the left: Mpumelelo Zungu, Kylie Tamia Padaychy and Aimee Foord’s designs.
After taking a walk on the wild side with Wild Africa Cream, it was time for the final years to showcase their work. Each student had the opportunity to put on their own show with a theme of their choice, and I was so impressed with how they adhered to it aesthetically – everything was considered carefully, from the music to the makeup.
Some of my favourite ranges were “Subliminal” by Mpumelelo Zhungu which consisted of gorgeous pops of green and interesting asymmetrical pieces. I also LOVED the glow in the dark pieces in Melissa Kotzé’s conceptual range, which showed incredible creativity and Brittany Malkin’s bubblegum pink dress-suit was super cute.
The final years wrapped up their fashion shows and it was time to find out who the winner of the Wild Africa Cream category was. Audience members were encouraged to cast their vote on wildafricacream.com, but it was a difficult choice because all the students had put so much effort into their looks.
Aimee Foord won the Wild Africa Cream Elegance Untamed Design Challenge and walked away with a R10 000 cash prize for her magnificent swooping black gown with leopards on the sides. What made this so much more awesome is that she’s a first-year student! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her in future.
“My favourite moment of the show is the crowd’s reaction. I love that. They’re happy! If the crowd reacts beautifully, we’re winning!” – Spero Villioti
Thank you so much to the Wild Africa Team for inviting me to this spectacular event, Villioti Fashion Institute for the show and The Hilton Sandton for the fab venue. I had a lovely time and I hope to see you again next year!
Yours in leopard print,