This year's AFI Fastrack finalists are: Nthabiseng Molefe from Durban, Thebe Magugu and Armand Dicker from Cape Town, and Martelle Ludik from Joburg.
All four of the finalists were awarded a R10,000 cash prize, as well as the opportunity to launch a capsule collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2015, after which the winner will be named AFI Young Designer of the Year.
In preparation for the showing of their capsule collections, the finalists will each have a three-month internship with an established AFI fashion designer suited to their individual skills, style inspirations and future brand goals. This is meant to inspire, teach and guide young designers into the South African and International fashion industry.
"The goal of AFI Fastrack is to give young, talented designers the platform on which to build their success and develop into respected, established designers, which further helps to grow the industry. This year we had incredible talents showcasing their work, which made the selection of the top four very difficult, but also highly rewarding. AFI is proud to nurture and support these young designers," said Sizwe Nzimande, Group Marketing Manager of African Fashion International (AFI).
Nthabiseng's collection, entitled Dimensions and inspired by cubism, is characterised by multiple lengths and angles, with contrasting textures and colours adding to the intriguing depths and creativity of the collection. Thebe Magugu, similarly, drew inspiration from the idea of multiple dualities, exploring concepts of masculine femininity and serious playfulness in a collection that is intelligent and engaged with the history of design.
In their respective collections, both Armand Dicker and Martelle Ludik expressed themes of androgyny, blurring the lines between traditionally male and female attire. Armand Dicker drew inspiration from Dante's Inferno, identifying the overall mood for his collection as ominous, in warm red and orange hues. Conversely, Martelle Ludik's collection revolved around the idea of identity and boundaries, questioning preconceived stereotypes and ideals of perfection.
All of these young designers were scored on their creativity and commercial thinking, as well as technical skill and presentation, with the winning four having demonstrated excellence in all four categories.
Alongside Rich Mnisi, the panel of judges included the Fashion Director of Gaschette, Jessica Lupton; the Fashion Trend Forecaster at Flux Trends, Nicola Cooper; the Head of AFI Fastrack, Kyle Boshoff; and AFI Privé Manager, Randa Adechoubou.