Capturing a revolution

IMG_2444 Fashion blogger and stylist Nabilah Kariem

While the field of photography is predominantly male, female photographers are making serious moves in the industry and defying the norm.

 

Rizqua Barnes, a Cape Town-based photographer, is someone who has been at the forefront of the new wave of female photographers who have gained well deserved recognition and praise.

“Currently, with smartphones offering high definition cameras, just about anyone can label themselves as a photographer. However, it’s the professionals such as Barnes who stand out”

The designated playing fields are social media platforms such as picture driven Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Photographers and bloggers alike compete for a spot in glossy magazines, newspaper and online portals. The leading and popular photographer genres include general photography, socials, portraits, nature and fashion.

Carving your spot at the top is not easy, and like any other career, the field requires hard work, focus and individuality, says Barnes.

I first met Barnes about two years ago on live video sharing platform Snapchat. Her snaps (pictures of her daughter Nura melted my heart) and her everyday life intrigued me. Her diverse professional portfolio on Instagram includes photos of models, personalities, fashion bloggers and just about every other thing that catches her eye.

Curious about how she became a photographer, I asked her: “When was the first time you picked up a camera?”

She said: “I was in Standard 5 (grade 7). I don’t remember what type of camera it was exactly but I got it from my aunt and it was a film camera. I borrowed it for camp.

“I was way too young at the time and never really gave it much thought. Thinking about it now, taking pictures is something that I have always enjoyed.

“My dad Fuad Barnes had a camera as well and was always taking pictures of our family. When I finished school, my sister Quanita borrowed loaned me her camera when we went on holiday and I took pictures of everything.

“I went on a paddling boat and the camera fell into the ocean we still laugh about this until today. Since then I am always super careful with a camera.

“I was always obsessed with sunlight, light and trees. There is a certain time during the day, the hour before sunset, when the sun shines on spots which are usually hidden during the day the golden hour, it’s called”

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Model Ashleigh Herman wearing The Design Wearhouse 

 

Now a fully fledged “Girl Boss” #GirlBoss , Barnes credits Facebook for propelling her career to where she is now.

“I have been on my toes since the beginning of my career and I am still on my toes. Ever since Facebook happened, things have been happening for me and it hasn’t stopped,” she says.

“From weddings to engagements to 21st birthdays, matric dances and family photos. I have shot everything. Everything you can think of, I have shot it”

“But right now, I have found myself, after 10 years in the industry. I am currently enjoying fashion and portraits photography.

“All my life, I have always told myself that I want to be my own boss. I never want to work for anybody. I worked in retail for three years and it made me realise that I am worth more than a 9 to 5. I felt that I was wasting time being desk bound when I can be everywhere, meeting people, taking pictures and creating content. I have always been driven, entrepreneurship is just in my blood;

“There are times when working for yourself is scary but it’s worth it,” she says.

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Models Wekwa Tenzi and Alina Castle wearing Shop Brett Robson

Her portfolio now also includes wedding photography, a category she fell into by chance.“More female Muslim photographers started popping up and this was a nice thing to witness. At times when I couldn’t take on more work because I had too much on my plate, I would refer clients to other female photographers.

“It was a big deal for me because at the time I felt as if I was the only female photographer amongst males, especially in the Muslim community which was very male dominated and it was tough.

“Men and the older generations didn’t take a female with a camera seriously.

“When more and more women photographers came onto the scene, it was like a weight off my shoulders.”

How does she go from being a wedding photographer to shooting glamorous models?

“With weddings, I became more of a people’s person. I actually know how to make people relax in front of a camera. It’s a power that we have as photographers,” she explains.

“In fashion, you are one-on-one with someone, and it’s such a big deal because it’s up to me to make the person comfortable. Whether or not you are an experienced model, you still get nervous”

 

“Currently, my aesthetic is a clean and fresh look, but yet I still want the photograph to pop. I still want people to go wow! When they see it, there should be little for me to explain in a picture.

“I always want the viewer to know what they are seeing immediately. The model needs to connect with the viewer,” adds Barnes

Pic 5 Rizqua portrait by thabit.kamaldien

A portrait of Rizqua by Thabit Kamaldien

** Connect with Rizqua  on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rizqua_barnes/?hl=en 

*See more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style-beauty/fashion/5-menswear-trends-you-need-to-know-10442700

*See more What drives a designer?

Kwena Baloyi hair photography series titled “Afrikan Krowns”

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Kwena Baloyi . Picture by Trevor Stuurman

For a long time the controversial issue of black women’s hair has been debated on mainstream media. Even though arguments continue as to whether it is correct or not to have relaxed hair and wear weaves and wigs, I am excited to see a shift in the narrative. The internet and social media are at the forefront in driving the story of “my hair, my crown”. I spoke to fashion stylist Kwena Baloyi, whose Instagram photography series of beautiful hairstyles celebrating black hair caught my eye.

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Kween Kwena. Picture by Nonzunzo Gxekwa 

Tell us about yourself? My friends and industry peers fondly call me “Kween Kwena”. I’m a vivacious, high-spirited and fun person (or so I’m told). I’m from Moletjie Ga-Makibelo in Limpopo. I’m a professional, on-demand TV, magazine and personal stylist. I’m also a fashion adventurist, who explores different clothes to come up with unique styles. I consider myself a fashion therapist because I help people find their fashion identity. I’m low-key obsessed with hair too.

Tell us about your interest in hair? Like every young woman I have come a long way with my hair.

Most of us, as black women, have had a contentious relationship with the kink in our coily hair and it’s been influenced by what society tells us is “acceptable”

I’ve been through that phase where my hair needed to be straight because I thought that was “appropriate”. My natural hair was called “untidy” or was not appreciated by those around me, so I thought it would be better to straighten or shave it. The older I got, the more I appreciated what my hair meant to me and what it represented to me as a woman in a society with so many negative connotations about African people’s hair. Now I wear my hair how I like because it’s an extension of who I am. It expresses my personality more than any item of clothing could.

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What inspired your social media hair photo series? Being a stylist affords me the opportunity to travel to different parts of the country and to meet many different characters. Each person I have met has always had an interesting aspect of their hair. Some stand out for being unique, while some simply intrigue me because they choose to be “regular” for the sake of fitting in. Experiencing this variety of people sparked the notion of how people relate to their “crown” – which is what your hair is essentially. You can choose to have it bold and in your face, or like other hairstyles considered “generic” or “normal”.

 

I’ve also been attracted to how different tribes around the continent wear their hair – particularly in West Africa.

There is a lot of documentation by history scholars and international artists about black people and their hair. The natives of Ugogo, whose hair traditions are exceptional, are one of a few. There are also the Fante women of Elmina (Edina) in Ghana, who had beautiful thick hair and their hairstyles were always so intricate and crafted to perfection. In fact, my current coiffure hairstyle is inspired by women in West Africa. The hairstyle was later made popular by our beloved mama Miriam Makeba. South Africa also has threading and plaiting techniques that are unique and allow us to express our personalities.

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Who is responsible for creating the beautiful hairstyles? My go-to stylist is Ncumisa “Mimi” Duma. She’s a talented hair magician and understands the importance of treating natural hair with care. Can you believe my hair has not seen a hair dryer or endured any artificial heat since I started growing it? It’s the healthiest my natural hair has been in ages!

Does your series have a title? Yes. It’s called “Afrikan Krowns”. We are each Afrikan and each have a Krown. Your Krown is an extension of who you are and an expression of your personality/character. The series looks at how each person chooses to wear their Krown with pride.

 

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Can you tell us what triggered your hair interest? This will sound so clichéd, but do you know the song I am not my hair, by India Arie? It’s always been one of my favourites jams, but it wasn’t until years after I heard it that I began to understand what she was really saying. Often as young girls we sing along to a song without really understanding what its purpose or message is. The way India describes her “hair story” in the first verse is how my hair chronicles kinda went. You start with whatever hair your parents decide you need to have. Then you become a little girl who does certain hairstyles because that’s what the school deems acceptable. From there you become a teenager, get influenced by pop culture and base your hairstyles on what’s “trending”. Then you become an adult and still get peer pressured into doing what your circle finds palatable. Eventually, your hair starts to fall out because you’ve either put way too many chemicals in it or braided it for too long or sewn on too many weaves.

How do you see natural hair empowering women? For me it says you’re slowly, but surely, getting to a point where society’s standards of beauty don’t define who you are. You no longer feel forced to relax your hair or wear a weave just because the expectation to have straight hair weighs you down.

You are ready to celebrate your hair and turn it into whichever shape of krown you desire because it’s an extension of who you are, but by no means defines who you are. In many ways, I hope black women feel free to be whoever they choose to be through their krowns.

Any last words? Women need to understand that the type of hair they choose to wear is not linked to who they are or who other people assume them to be. Whether you’re into braids, weave, wigs, fades, cheese kop, dreadlocks, afro, or anything else you find appealing, remember your hair is your krown.

No one can dictate what it should look like nor what it should mean to you. What matters is that you love it, nurture it and make the most of it.

 

*Connect with Kwena on Instagram: @kwenasays

Connect with me on Instagram @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en and find more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

This piece was first published in the Top of The Times on June 9 2017

The designer who dresses the stars

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Media personality Bonang Matheba wears Orapuleng Modutle Style Avenue.

THE glamorous dresses worn by the likes of Bonang Matheba, Terry Pheto and Nandi Madida on red carpet events takes a lot of work.

They begin in the imagination of talented designers, who use celebrities as muses or brand ambassadors. South African couture designer Orapeleng Modutle is currently in the forefront when it comes to dressing some of our leading ladies for his label, Orapeleng Modutle Style Avenue.

“I get to dress some of the country’s top celebrities, an opportunity that is not afforded to many young designers,” says Modutle

“I have always wanted to dress Bonang Matheba because she is one of the best dressed red carpet queens. I have dressed all the celebrities that I have wanted to dress locally such as Ayanda Thabethe, Minnie Dlamini.

 

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Artist Nandi Madida

“The women that I dress form in line with the product that I deliver and they get attracted to the quality of the style that I deliver. It’s really knowing how to stick to your clientele and quality and craftsmanship is also very important,” he says.

“Internationally, I would love to dress Jennifer Lopez and Kendall Jenner.”

I met Modutle before his African Fashion International Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week Cape Town showcase.

The collection, titled “Rose Garden Wedding”, features subliminal gowns in sequins, chiffon, satin, structured corsets.

The designs are complemented by embellishments such as flowers, pearls, lace, feathers and hats by Anita Ferreira designs. The theme of the collection says

“Royalty is getting married and they have invited their elite family members and friends. The collection caters for the attendees, the mother of the bride and bridal party”. 

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Modutle said: “It’s a day of fun, people are wearing hats, butterflies on their hair and big gowns… taking couture to another level.

“Our previous collection was very playful, our clientele was very young, she wore crop tops and shorts.

“The couture fashion scene in SA still need to grow, we need to educate our clients about the design and production process, the craftsmanship and the behind-the scenes that goes into creating a couture garment.

“Some of my favourite international designers that I look up to for inspiration includes Tom Ford and Elie Saab and locally Gavin Rajah and Gert-Johan Coetzee are amazing at couture,”he says.

 

Modutle, the Tshwane University of Technology fashion graduate, developed his love for fashion and attention for details while watching his mother and grandmother do needle work.

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“I used to watch them hand stitching and that caught my attention from when I was about eight- years-old – that’s when I also developed my love for sketching.

“The first item I made in varsity was a pencil skirt, which took me a whole two weeks to make. My big break came when I interned with Khensani Nkosi of Stoned Cherie. That was an amazing experience and she is the pillar of where I am now.

“I learnt a lot about how she ran her business. She taught me that fashion is not all about the glitz and the glam,” he says.

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Describe the Orapeleng Modutle Style Avenue woman?

“She is between the ages of 20 and 60. She is a romantic. She exudes opulence and luxury. She is the kind of woman that will wear a pencil skirt with a slit paired with with a feather jacket to work,” he says.

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His advice for aspiring designers:

“You need to learn the skill of design, your talent is not enough. Once you know the skill get an internship. It’s very important because you will be working with other people who have been in the industry longer than you.”

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● Connect with Orapeleng Modutle Style Avenue on instagram @Orapelengmodutle.

Photography Credits: Creative direction: Rich Mnisi. Styling: Bee Diamondhead Photographer: Apart Verrips. Hats: Anita Ferreiradesigns. Make-Up Artist: Muzi Zuma. Flowers: Amor Flowers South Africa.

Connect with me on Instagram @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en

Read more of my work at http://www.IOL.co.za http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

This piece was first published in Top of The Times on May 29 2017.

 

Some of the SA Fashion Week S/S17 Highlights

Woolworths Style by SAThe Woolworths StyleBySA showcase by designers  Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, AKJP, Pichulik, Maria McCloy, Sol Sol, Selfi and Young&Lazy. Pic by Simon Deiner/SDR Photo

The SA Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017 showcase wrapped up at Johannesburg’s Hyde Park Corner Shopping Centre yesterday bringing together the fashion elite.

A crowd of buyers, bloggers, designers and photographers assembled for five days of runway shows featuring ladies wear and men’s wear.

The event also featured a trade show and pop-up stores wing where curated displays were on show for guests to browse and purchase the latest collections.

Guests participated in informative talks with selected designers who shared their expertise with aspiring fashion designers.

There were more highlights than lows which is refreshing to witness as younger designers put out well designed garments that can easily compete on international runways. The visiting designers from Norway and China brought in much-needed inspiration.

Here are some highlights:

* Woolworths launched its 2017 StyleBySA seasonal campaign, featuring a capsule collection of eight local designers who are making waves in the industry. The capsule collection features designs by Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, AKJP, Pichulik, Maria McCloy, Sol Sol, Selfi and Young&Lazy. From modern streetwear to footwear and accessoriesinspired by our continent, the collaboration received raving reviews.In a first for SAFW, the collection was available online straight from the runway.

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* Four South African designers competed for a opportunity of a lifetime. The prize of a travel seminar to Berlin Fashion Week courtesy of Lufthansa German Airlines. Designer Sheila-Madge won with her presentation of art decor designs decorated with florals and embellishments. Also the highlight of the night included the Durban University of Technology (DUT) X showcase where students were given the platform to showcase their spring and summer collections.

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* Chu Yan, one of China’s top 10 designers, of Chinese clothing brand CHUYAN presented a beautifully crafted collecting titled “A date with a thousand years” in collaboration with bespoke jewellery brand “Impilo”. The meticulously made and presented collection in shades of burnt orange and green consisted of ready-to-wear garments and tailor-made costume that left me breathless.

 

Rain ware by DUT student Nishthi Sewnath

* For more runway shows and designer info visit: http://www.safashionweek.co.za http://www.safashionweek.co.za/category/designers/nishthi-sewnath/collections-nishthi-sewnath/?post=32419

Instagram: @safashionweek.

New Month, Fresh Start.

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Hello December!!! As I welcome my favourite month beacuse it’s my birthday month and it means Summer is officially here!  I started a new journey today, as the Fashion and Beauty Editor for the Independent Media group…my dream job fam. I am so grateful and excited for the future;-)

So… naturally, I had to SLAY on my first day at the job. #NontandoWoreWhat 

Top by H&M South Africa 

Pants by Top Shop 

Socks are by Happy Socks the “Local Hero” edition

Shoes by Steve Madden

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The pictures are by Tracey Adams 

Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58

When fashion meets decor

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Eduan Roos, Tamara Chérie and Leandri de Leeuw collaborated for aCREATE and Chérie Spring/Summer 2016/2017. PICTURES: JOE DAN PHOTOGRAPHY

COLLABORATION is now a common buzzword in fashion, art and design. Brands,
creatives and influencers are coming together to share ideas… curating content that is specifically relevant for their consumers.

The latest collaboration is between creative décor specialists, Eduan Roos and Leandri de Leeuw of aCREATE, an award-winning contemporary readyto- wear brand, Tamara Chérie. The collaboration, which was part of aCREATE and Chérie Spring/Summer2016/17 showcase titled “A Common Thread”, was presented at the Roodebloem Studios in Woodstock last month. It saw the coming together of interior design and fashion in a beautifully curated way.

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The two brands’ aesthetic of muted palettes and minimal styles complemented each other well, expressing clean lines and refined silhouettes articulate in a chic modern attitude.

Previously part of The Aleit Group , Roos and De Leeuw recently ventured out on their own to form aCREATE, and over the past months have made a name for themselves as the go-to-designers for bespoke event experiences in Cape Town and Joburg. Their furniture pieces offer customised décor and accessories that interpret their vision for each unique
event.

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The local events industry has evolved over the years, with clients now demanding service that not only sets them apart, but also delivers enduring memories for their guests, Roos explains when I met him and De Leeuw at Chérie’s studio in Gardens.

Roos, a fashion designer by profession, says the slow living trend has spilled over from lifestyle to décor and design.

“There is a big Japanese influence in design at the moment… a sense of calmness in the furniture pieces. Such as using a statement piece as the focal point instead of cluttering the room with different types of furniture pieces; 

Décor design is heading to a clean and minimalist approach,” says Roos

De Leeuw continues: “Less is more at the moment. Also, people are now more aware than ever and conscious of their environment… People are more aware of the fact that there is a serious water shortage problem.

“We recently did an event where the clients specifically asked for organic materials instead of flowers… which is rare;” she says 

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About their bespoke pieces, Roos says they create functioning pieces meant to be admired.

“For us, it’s really about conceptualising a look for each event, tailoring it to fit in with your brand and vision. These days clients are so over-stimulated by picture-driven social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, that it’s key to get a sense of what the client wants and to interpret it in a way that communicates their vision and brand,” says Roos.

 

“Our aesthetic is calm, natural and none aggressive. We want the pieces in our collection to be calming in a sense and make it easy to fit any brief,” says Roos. 

 

The ottoman couch, sort of like a church bench meets a comfortable sofa, is a popular furniture piece at the moment. It’s slick, clean and a beautiful piece, says
Roos.

De Leeuw adds the niche market of interior design is so competitive that one has to stand out in order to survive.

“ You need to stand out, have a unique thing about you that will draw clients,”adds de Leeuw 

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Tamara Chérie Spring/Summer 2016/2017

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AWARD-WINNING designer, Tamara Chérie Dyson, has interned at Vivienne Westwood in London and won numerous design prizes, including the Elle Rising Star Design Award in 2014.

She started her design career last year building her brand and creating a successful diffusion line for Mr Price. In her relatively short career she has
been involved in fashion weeks such as Mercedes-Benz Africa Fashion Week
and Joburg Fashion Week.

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Her collection reflects a balanced sense of timeless elegance and current intuitive design, focusing on achieving impeccable quality and the perfect fit.

Confident and sophisticated, the brand’s collections offer clients an investment wardrobe of discreet indulgence and understated, effortless style.

She recently launched her SS’17 collection which is available at various boutiques in Cape Town and Joburg and also on online shopping platform Spree. She describes her design process as “methodical”.

“I design key silhouettes that I feel every woman will want in their wardrobe that season and then I build on that. I don’t really follow trends and fads. I design then I will sometimes research detailing to add to the collection… I usually follow my heart and it
works,” she says

The Tamara Chérie woman she designs with in mind is “confident, sophisticated and believes in investing in pieces that transcends seasons and fads. A woman who believes in high quality, good designs and good fabrics”, she adds.

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CREATIVE: Eduan Roos, Tamara Chérie and Leandri de Leeuw collaborated for aCREATE and Chérie Spring/Summer 2016/2017.

Connect with with me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58
● aCreate at http://www.acreate.co.za/
● Twitter: acreate_za
● INSTAGRAM: acreate_za
● Tamara Chérie Dyson: Instagram:
@TamaraChérieOfficial

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on November 23 2016. 

 

Floral Couture

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FLOWER HEAD: Model Samira Ako Manieson of Full Circle Models, who is wearing a dress by Jacques LaGrange Couture. Her makeup is by M.A.C Cosmetics. Pictures by  Cindy Waxa. 

Flowers remain a central element for most spring and summer collections. For many years fashion designers have taken inspiration from flowers to create dreamy haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces.

Seen on runways, florals are no longer restricted to prints on garments: designers are complementing their designs with extravagant headpieces as seen recently at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Joburg.

This is currently a big trend, here at home as well as abroad. Designers such as Dutch luxury fashion house Viktor & Rolf impressed with their 2015 spring and summer collection that styled with elaborate floral embellishments.

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Viktor & Rolf impressed with their 2015 spring and summer collection that styled with elaborate floral embellishments.

Stellenbosch floral stylist extraordinaire Alwijn Burger says it is about time
that flowers were no longer reserved for just the garden or for weddings. Known as Blomboy, Burger has made a name for himself in the niche market as the talent behind surreal floral arrangements worn as headpieces and beautiful arrangements at events of all kinds.

In the past months, he has collaborated with a number of fashion designers, creating floral arrangements that add pizzazz to their showcases. Burger’s work is not limited to flower
accessory pieces for women, he also makes quirky pieces for men.

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I meet Burger at couture designer Jacques LaGrange’s studio in Sea Point where he meticulously creates an extravagant headpiece to go with a daring thigh-baring metallic
dress by LaGrange.

Working on leggy model Samira Ako-Manieson of Full Circle Model Management, he uses tropical leaves and calla lilies to create a leafy and dramatic piece which he describes as
“modest”.

Since the metallic gown already commands attention, Burger had to make sure that the
headpiece did not take away from the glamorous gown.

His process is organic; taking into consideration the dress and model, he plucks and twists and the floral piece comes to life effortlessly. 

The entire process takes just under 15 minutes.

“It’s about time that the meeting of fashion and flowers is becoming a big thing. Flowers have always been the Cinderella of the accessories: they have not been given enough prominence.

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“Also I think we take flowers for granted as we are used to having them in our gardens. We tend not to appreciate them as much. However, we are catching on to the international trend where flowers are a timeless sort of thing… I hope the trend is here to stay.

“Instead of wearing your usual hat or fascinator that will cost you hundreds of rand, why not do a floral fascinator or piece? It’s not expensive; the bunch of flowers that I used on Ako-Manieson were only R350 and it will make your outfit stand out more,”he says.

Although Burger’s love for flowers began as a child, he fell into his now career purely by chance, after landing a job as a clerk at a flower shop in the UK, where he learnt as much as he could about flowers.

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“Flowers are here today and gone tomorrow… they are not an investment but meant to be enjoyed,” adds Burger.

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Connect at blomboy.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: theblomboy

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: @Nontando58

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on November 9 2016.