alks have been underway for more than a year now for South African fashion designer David Tlale to open a brick and mortar in Gotham. He moved what many hope will be a step closer in that direction when he participated in February’s New York Fashion Week for the first time as a solo designer.
East met West in the concrete jungle, when he showed a collection as part of the Arise Fashion Show umbrella in 2009. But in February the designer did a solo presentation at Lincoln Center with his spring 2013 collection titled Transcendence—a collection that embodied Hollywood glamour. Angelina Jolie was rumored to have been backstage falling in love with the wears.
African Fashion International director Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe was in-the-house with the mother of New York Fashion Week Fern Mallis. Perhaps we will see South Africa native Charlize Theron in a Tlale number soon?!
Unlike Tlale in Joburg, the New York collection kept the color range simple, focusing strongly on yellow gold, black, and a multi-colored rust floral print mainly in silk chiffon. The collection riffed on traditional African fashion motifs, with models in head wraps that the designer individually wrapped himself before the presentation. The collection is also international, with garments you would see on fashionistas from Mumbai to Milan to Manhattan. Covetable pieces are the unisex chiffon tunic with bronze beaded embellishment, the high-waisted satin lace trim pencil skirt, the satin skinny pants, and the funky finger sockets (too ambiguous to be called gloves). And it wouldn’t be David Tlale without some lace appliqué and glass beading to finish off the details in each piece.
Tlale has his eyes fixed on the sky. At his presentation in Lincoln Center’s The Box, he talked about the expansion of his brand. “This really feels amazing. As of tomorrow I think we will be speaking a different language. We can only grow from here, we can only go higher,” he said.
Now back in Johannesburg, where his fairly new boutique sits, the designer is gearing up for Africa Fashion Week at the end of October. The show may take place at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, or in Nelson Mandela Square, or even in Lion Park – South Africa knows that with David Tlale there’s no telling what element of surprise he will include. The consensus in the end, however, is always the same –the collection is fabulous.