Winnie Mandela was a trendsetter, says long-time designer | People Magazine

Winnie Mandela was a trendsetter, says long-time designer

If nothing else, this week has reminded us of just how influential a woman Winnie Mandela was, even in fashion circles.

Her longtime designer, Sonwabile Ndamase met Mam’ Winnie in 1985 and had the privilege of dressing her for many an event. However, at the time most black-tie affairs saw guests attending in tuxedos, cocktail dresses and highbrow, European attire.

“According to Sonwabile, Winnie changed all of that.

Speaking to the Sowetan, the fashion designer revealed that Winnie Mandela insisted on wearing traditional African clothing to gala dinners and exclusive banquets, and refused to compromise. However, this had a profound effect on the way that African men and women would go on to dress up for these types of occasions:

 “She made South African women believe in who they are and made traditional wear acceptable. It used to be black tie, tux and European dress codes, but she stood firm. She was far away from home and needed to make Johannesburg her home. She wanted to dress like her ancestors so that she can draw strength from that and it humbled her and gave her ubuntu.”

Sonwabile Ndamase lost count of the number of dresses he made for Mam’ Winnie over the decades, but he certainly remembered the last dress he designed for her.

“She called me with three days to go and asked me to create something for her. I went and painted the town red looking for fabric and beads. When her granddaughter Zoleka dressed her up, she said ‘Sonwabile, you’ve done it again. This is why I love you and believe in you’.”

Winnie Mandela’s influence on South African fashion cannot be understated and Sonwabile revealed that he is working with the Mandela family to preserve her clothing

The hope is that her outfits can be displayed in a museum in the future:

“I’ve already spoken to the family and I asked them to keep her clothing, because it would be nice to create a museum of her clothes.”


The post Winnie Mandela was a trendsetter, says long-time designer first appeared on All4Women



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