Moonchild Sanelly says she kicked doors when they didn’t open

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TENACITY: Moonchild Sanelly Picture: Jim Herrtage

The blue-haired pop star, has made impressive moves in her young career. Performing with Busi Mhlongo and Madala Kunene, she is a beaming light that will illuminate for many years to come.I caught up with her this week while she was in town to record at the Red Bull Cape Town S tudios, where she spoke about her career and her upcoming performance at the Oppikoppi Festival in October. 

When you completed high school, was music the trajectory you expected for your career? When I left school, the stage was definitely the vision. Performance and my mom allowed me to be expressive, so lights, camera, and action was my life’s theme.

The R&B and pop landscape has changed a lot since you came out. What are your feelings on the scene today? I respect the power of reinvention, like Beyoncé. I think it’s one of those things where you learn ways of staying true to your art yet are creative enough for young ones to jump on and appreciate, without calling it a throwback.

At this point in your career, what would you like to accomplish? A song with US record producer, rapper, singer Diplo. My fashion school and that is after I scoop my awards in every genre that I pitch for! I plan on winning in everything I embark on. I’m patient too.

 

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Picture supplied. 

If you had to select a new artist to collaborate with on a song or album, who would it be? It would be this dope male rapper and art director Oarabile Mahole aka Jay Cubed SA, from Mafikeng. Every song is conceptual and he deals with branding artists as an artist and I love Die Antwoord with my life. Aka and Anatii are fire galore. The queen Thandiswa Mazwai. There are so many Nicci Saint Bruce is a Yassssssss!

Tell us about your experience at Primavera Pro in Spain?

Life life life! You are shown over there that music is a language of its own. The appreciation, the posters as I walked into festival they love our craft. I wish we all thought super big with our careers no matter what we do.

You have been fortunate enough to perform with SA’s well respected artists. Did you think you would get to this point? Tell us about some of the highlights while working with high profile names? I was this kid who was always eager and kicked doors when they didn’t open. It’s always a tick off the bucket list of your career. I am still that character. As an artist, with each achievement there’s hope that something better is coming. I felt that with every year in my 12 years on stage. I think patience is by default as you don’t think negatively when there’s light seeping little by little. It was an honour and the journey continues.Mama Busi said to me…“ngane yam umuhle, don’t change” (My child, you are beautiful. Don’t ever change.) Can you imagine this rock star telling a young fired-up red-haired girl that!

You will be performing at Oppikoppie? How do you feel about this and what can the audience expect? New music from my ep called #1stmillion which I’ve just recorded at Red Bull Studios in Cape Town. I’ll also be sharing the stage with Luma and The Kiffness, so I am all over. You’re a pretty stylish and fashion forward individual. How important do you think image and style is when it comes to the music you’re making, as well as performing in general?Image to me is everything. You must spark an interest for people to find out what you do, before you deliver. That’s what I tell my clients. I cannot live with being invisible, the eyes are awesome.

What advice do you have for artists who are interested in producing, writing and performing but might have a hard time balancing and focusing their efforts? Believe in your art. Listen to wise counsel, in fact you may seek it. When you have a vision, you are the first one who needs to be motivated enough to hustle it t hrough. Your product is the reason for performing, so don’t lose focus, ever.

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

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

See more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style-beauty/fashion/chulaap-caters-for-the-woman-10346031

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

What drives a designer?

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When it comes to clothing brands, sometimes all it takes is a clean and distinct design aesthetic that will set you apart from the saturated market. Streetwear brand Unknown Union (UU) is one of a few South African labels which have managed to stand out with its distinct tracksuits and separates like T-shirts, caps, socks and jackets

I get to know the founder of the brand, Jason Storey.

Tell us a bit about yourself. I wasn’t always a designer. I actually spent my early career as an in-house corporate attorney in New York, working around the clock on deal after deal. But I always had a passion for expression outside the field of law. I grew up surrounded by the study of art (my father was an art dealer).

Tell us about starting your label.Unknown Union was born from that passion, but it’s vision has changed significantly since its origins. My family and I have been travelling to South Africa since I was much younger and it is through that experience that I developed a deep affinity for the people, places and cultures here. UU originally was originally founded in 2010 and at that time we primarily imported brands from outside of South Africa, such as Obey, Levi’s Vintage, Pendleton, and Warriors of Radness.

We also were the first to officially introduce Top Shop to the African Market through our exclusive pop up shop. Around 2011, we began developing our in-house clothing brand, UU, which was inspired by local art and culture, and it didn’t take long before this became the primary focus of our shop. Today, you can find our range at our newest location in Cape Town CBD (44 Bloem Street), where our garments celebrate the rich cultural history of Lesotho and South Africa and several new design projects that touch Angola, Congo and Kenya.

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Model, Sanele Xaba is the face of UU. Picture: Simon Deiner/SDR Photo

What’s it like being in the fashion industry? The fashion industry is fun, but challenging.

From the outside the industry can easily appear to be sexy and glamorous, but people don’t always see how much work and effort goes into the creation of each garment. From design to production it takes a team working meticulously around the clock to produce something worth buying.

 

How would you describe your brand? We believe that there is something that binds every person on this planet together. There is no name for that thing. There is no way to smell it, taste it, feel it, see it, etc. But we all intrinsically recognise that it exists. That’s one of the meanings behind our name, Unknown Union.

How difficult is it to remain original when streetwear brands seem to emerge daily nowadays? If you are pinning your originality on the uniqueness of your design, then few designers can meet that standard because almost every design you could think of to drape the human body has already been thought of or created.

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Is it important for the brand to have the clothing worn by celebrities? While we are thankful many celebrities have taken an interest in our brand, our clothing is designed for everyone .

How have you seen the role of social media develop for you as a brand?

Social has media has become more of a focus for the brand over the last year. Until recently, word of mouth and print were our primary marketing vehicles.

 

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What’s next for Unknown Union? Our UU family can expect to see new and innovative capsule collections from upcoming collaborations with local and international artists. Everyone is invited to come through our flagship Cape Town shop for the launch of our next exhibit: Fashion Art.

Connect with Unknown Union on Instagram @unknownunion https://www.instagram.com/unknownunion/

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

Find more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

This piece was first published in The Mercury 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.

 

SA Menswear Week, highlights so far.

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A Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha design  showcased at Season 1. Photo by SIMON DEINER/SDR

Seeing a gap in the fast-growing category of menswear, fashion photographer Simon Deiner and businessman Ryan Beswick developed a platform that is now responsible for promoting menswear designers in Africa. Entering its fifth season, the LEXUS SA Menswear Week (Lexus SAMW AW’17) is the only menswear-focused fashion week on the continent.

Over the past four seasons, we have had an opportunity to witness some of the best in menswear by both emerging and established designers from around Africa, some of whom have gone on to gain international exposure. Rich Mnis, Jenevieve Lyons, Chu Suwannapha, Craig Jacobs, Orange Culture and Laduma Ngxokolo are now recognised internationally.
My highlights include the debut range of Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha showcased at season one. The styling, design and the prints show Suwannapha’s artistic aesthetic and his love for the colourful African continent.

Lukhanyo Mdingi’s androgynous collection of dark navy, blue and black made up of sheer silk and denim separates from season two remain fresh in my mind. The range brought forth the growing trend of gender-fluid fashion. The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters and Jod Paulsen (AKJP) from season three showed that a meeting of two creative minds can lead to magic.

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A design by Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture by : SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
For Deiner, there have been many highlights: “I remember the first season where we did a team photo at the end and there were about 50 people involved. And when we took the group photo at the SS17 collections last July we had just over 150 people in the pic. “Other highlights have been watching our young designers shine and grow into proper household names and along the way start businesses. I have also enjoyed seeing how men in general now perceive the concept of wearing locally made clothing as something they are proud to do,” Deiner says.
A lot of hard work and dedication are necessary for a designer to stand out from a saturated industry competing against cheap imports and fast fashion. Funding, production and affordable and quality fabrics are just some of the challenges that our young designers are facing, which play a hand in preventing them from maintaining profitable businesses.
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Kim Gush by SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
Kim Gush, owner and designer of Kim Gush apparel, adds: “I think local consumers still love to compare designers to big retailers, especially where price is concerned. We are still constantly faced with the snub at our price tags… consumers forget that the items aren’t mass produced, therefore you are receiving a unique piece. And at the same time you are supporting our local manufacturing industry – which to be honest, needs every tiny purchase to try to revive it.
“Buying local means you are helping in developing and bringing our industry to those ‘international’ levels you so dearly desire as well as keeping jobs going,” she says. “Take the time to get to know all those brands you watch at fashion week. A lot of people are just there for the social, but they forget the heart and soul that goes into every garment presented, the dreams the designers have for this industry to flourish,” she says. 
For Suwannapha, who will not be showcasing at Lexus SAMW AW’17, the fabrication and the manufacturing are problematic. “Hopefully, some of the courier companies will work with fabrics agencies towards bringing fabrics to minimal costs, or I might have to live with the high labour costs as long as I’m producing in South Africa,” he says. “(This year) is all about expanding and building my brand. Collaboration will be a part of my brand’s personality, which will be coming soon and will be available online in South Africa,” Suwannapha says.
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The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters and Jod Paulsen from season three. Picture: SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
One of the youngest showcasing designers, Mzukisi Mbane of Imprint, adds: “When it comes to fashion week, I think we all take away what we want from it.“The fashion week benefits should always extend beyond the applause after a runway show. For instance, you get an opportunity to sell yourself to a wide audience that you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. “After my first runway show, I got invited to go to Ghana then Nigeria… I was instantly not just a South African brand, but a recognised African brand,”says Mbane.
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A Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane design. Picture by SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
On what to expect at his showcase next week: “The collection is based on a fictional character I created. It’s an Ndebele man who decided to leave home and travel the world.
“The collection includes a lot of colour, oversized silhouettes, genderfluid pieces. Which is truly the Imprint Afro futuristic aesthetic… it expresses a free spirit which challenges made-up perfection. “As the collection is titled “I couldn’t be bothered”, one will take away whatever they want from the collection… and that will be okay,” he adds.
LEXUS SA Menswear Week will take place at The Palms in Woodstock on February 3 and 4 2017.
Tickets are available at http://www.webtickets.co.za.For a full schedule see : http://www.menswearweek.co.za/
See more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

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

This piece was first published in the Weekend Argus (Sunday) on January 29 2017. 

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