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.

 

Living in colour…

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I took up the Fruit of the Loom South Africa “colour blocking challenge” with Zando and this is what I came up with. What do you guys think? I styled their t-shirts by wearing all four in one…I bet you haven’t seen basic t-shirts styled in this way before;-) The blue lipstick is from M.A.C .

Summer is here Fashionistas and it’s time to stand out in colourful clothing. I love colour and prints, no matter what the season is. From bright lipsticks to clothing and sneakers…gimme, gimme colour any day!!!

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#NontandoWoreWhat The mandarin jacket is a Nontando original (yes, I design my own clothes. Look out for my label soon)

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Credits: Pictures are by Khuthii @Khuthii on Instagram.

Location: The beautiful Lourensford Estate

Connnect with me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58

 

 

Meet Mrs South Africa 2016

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The reigning Mrs South Africa Hlengiwe Twala, the beauty from Hartbeespoort Dam, was crowned as the 2017 Schwarzkopf Professional Mrs South Africa at a glittering grand finale at Emperors Palace.

The Mrs South Africa pageant may not enjoy as much fanfare as its counterpart the Miss South Africa competition. Entered by married women, Mrs South Africa sells itself as a women empowerment platform promoting women with philanthropic interests. Although the “queens” or the winners of both competitions take home a sparkling tiara and sash, and also enjoy a yearlong reign, the similarities end there.

While Miss South Africa is also big on women empowerment and celebrating beauty with brains, Mrs South Africa takes it a step further by promoting entrepreneurship and a sense of self. Hlengiwe Twala the current reigning Mrs South Africa explains this to me during her recent press tour in Cape Town.

The Joburg-based Twala has all the trimmings of a beauty queen. A slim and toned body, a dazzling smile and flowing hair, however it is her aura that immediately puts me at ease. I would later learn that this is due to the fact that we share the home province of KwaZulu-Natal. She, born in the quiet town of Pietermaritzburg says Durban is her happy place when she needs some quiet time: “I love Durban, it calms me,”she says.

Unlike most young girls who daydream about entering beauty contests, Twala on the other hand never gave it much thought until her mother died due to a rare blood cancer. This is one of the main reasons she entered Mrs SA.

“I have never really had an interest in beauty contents. “I literally found out about Mrs SA about two years ago. “And what really grabbed my interest was that they work very closely with the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa),” says Twala

“It was really heavy on my heart and I wanted to do something that would help raise cancer awareness… the competition was a perfect fit. “I also went through a cancer scare as I was planning on entering, so this has been a very personal journey for me.

“I got my test results a couple of days before the entries closed. “I saw it as a sign that I had to do it now because there are no guarantees for tomorrow,” she says. “I entered and I was not expecting win. I really wanted to have a year of fun. I wanted to have a year of me, because I realised that I was not living but I was just merely existing because I was in so much pain over my mother’s death.

“It has been a truly fulfilling journey. “I am so happy, my kids are happy and my husband is happy because they see me so happy,” Twala says.

Twala, a mother of three daughters, is fresh from competing in the Mrs World competition in Korea. Winning the competition has been a life changing experience, she says. “ My life has changed completely. The one thing that I love the most is that Mrs South Africa is all about women empowerment. “Unlike other pageants, we don’t really compete among each other.

“Soon after the Top 10 was chosen we had to prepare for a Cancer Gala to raise awareness and funds for Cansa… the whole experience empowers you to think like a business woman or a business person,” she says. Her philanthropic interests come from her mother Ntombifuthi, who taught her children from a young age to share what little they had with those who had less, Twala explains.

“I come from very humble beginnings. I remember my mother used to sew clothes for kids in the community who did not have any. “Although we also didn’t have much money to go round, she thought… I have hands and a machine, I will sew’;

“My mother used to say to us ‘When you give to another, you give to yourself’ and that is how I grew up… I don’t know anything else,” Twala explains.

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Top left, Lilliana LulliMarruchi won second princess, Mrs South Africa Hlengiwe Twala and first princess Olwethu Leshabane.

However, life in the spotlight attracts involuntary attention and sometimes not the right kind. Also, beauty pageants of any kind are always under scrutiny and are said to promote vanity and forcing unnecessary pressure on young girls to be perfect. Twala is well prepared for what is coming, good or bad:

“There is nothing wrong with us women looking pretty and enhancing what we have because when you look good, you feel good. “I think we should now promote being comfortable in your own skin and stop wanting to judge,” she says. “I am a little nervous about being in the limelight. “But I think right now, I feel so blessed that even the fear has taken a back seat. I feel so blessed and happy.

“I know it’s going to happen, when people see something good, they want to pick at it. “But you know what? I have so much positive support as Mrs SA, from my family, from my home and my friends… I am going to concentrate on the good,” Twala adds.

● Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram @Nontando58

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on December 9 2016. 

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

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. 

 

Sizzle this swimsuit season

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RESORT GODDESS:VADA by SIVADA “The Resort Goddess collection”

Swim season is here and there are many options on offer to rock this summer in a costume that suits your shape and size. From the ongoing onepiece swimsuit trend to sporty cut-away bikinis and extreme cut-outs in solid and tropical prints, it’s going to be a sizzling
beach season.

Here is a round-up of some of our favourites to inspire you during your beach apparel shopping trip. South Africa’s online fashion retailer VADA has launched its SS’17’ Resort Goddess collection featuring the favourite, classic one-piece swimsuit in sultry reds and feminine pastel hues. The designs are flattering feminine silhouettes for those who do not wish to flash too much skin.

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VADA by SIVADA “The Resort Goddess collection”

The collection also features delicate chiffon throwovers for lounging by the pool.
Order from their website: http://www. vadabysivada.co.za. Also view the collection
on Instagram @vadabysivada

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VADA by SIVADA “The Resort Goddess collection”

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BeachCult is the debut swimwear collection by designer Joanna Hedley, whose perfectly fitted, barely-there creations were showcased at last year’s Africa Fashion Week in London and at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg (MBFWJ) in March.

The collection features high waist and high-cut bottoms, as well as strap, crochet and mesh detailing. The prints used used are by Cape Town artists and illustrators Emijl De Kock and Jade Klara.

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BeachCult by Joanna Hedley. Photo by SDR Photo 

“The collection is inspired by the dichotomy of the human form in nature, which is realised both by our natural world themed prints, alongside our neutral plains, says Hedley.
“It is a local, edgy taste on luxe swimwear and is inspired by and aimed at young at heart, confident women who are comfortable in their own skin, and looking for something striking”, she says.

To view Hedley’s collection visit http://www.beachcult.co.za and Instagram @beachcult.

The Mismatched bikini
A matching bikini top and bottom is cute, however a mismatched bikini also looks good when styled correctly. Don’t be afraid to pair clashing colours and prints.

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Shoes:  Your beach outfit requires the perfect foot gear that is both comfortable and stylish. Brazilian brand Havaianas recently held their SS17 event showcasing their latest range of flip flops and espadrilles. The shoes are available in colourful and quirky designs, including florals, nautical patterns and quirky comic designs.

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* Visit Havaianas at the V&A Waterfront or shop online at http://www.havaianas-store.com.

Swim Trunks: Loud, colourful and busy board shorts remain a top favourite for men who want to swim in style.

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Granadilla Swim. Photo by Aubrey Ndiweni

Granadilla Swim: Granadilla is a South African brand that lives by the maxim: “It’s always summer somewhere”.  The name “Granadilla” was inspired by the iconic ice-cream sellers on Clifton 4th Beach in Cape Town (“a granadilla lolly to make you jolly!”) where Granadilla founders Adam and Josh met several summers ago.

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Granadilla Swim. Photo by Aubrey Ndiweni
Find them at www.granadillaswim.com 

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on October 19 2016. 
Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: @Nontando58