Entries for the Noni Gasa Bursary 2020 were judged on Tuesday the 5th November at DAF’s Woodstock campus. Over 600 applications were received and the quality of the submissions was extremely high, making it no easy task to choose a final winner. A top three — Akhona Zondani, Motsile Sebopa and Amanda Trom — were contacted and telephonically interviewed so that a final decision could be reached.
Panelists Bianca Fobian (DAF), Amandla Mbana (Rain), Nicola Cooper (Nicola Cooper & Associates),Raphaella Frame-Tolmie (Woolworths) and Noni Gasa (DAF) met to go through the applicants’ essays, designs and mood boards.
We welcome Amanda Trom as the overall winner and cannot wait to see how she goes about bringing her inspirations and visions to life here at DAF in 2020! She met Noni for the first time on SABC 3’s Afternoon Express show with Jeannie D.
We caught up with Amanda to chat about what the bursary means to her and where she finds her inspiration for design:
What was your initial reaction when you got that call informing you that you had won the Noni Gasa Bursary?
I was obviously super excited but I also struggled to believe it. It’s been over a month of thinking about the bursary, working towards it and envisioning what everything would be like, so it really took me a minute to process that everything was over and I had actually won. I actually won!
How did you ensure that your portfolio stood out?
I wanted to make sure that I left a piece of myself in my application, to show my individuality and my perspective. I wanted to be honest about my story and have them have an idea of who I am. I think that ensures that your application stands out because no one could possibly be you and duplicate your application, it ends up being one-of-a-kind.
In short, what inspired your passion for fashion?
Observing the women in my family. Watching them embody some other kind of spirit when they were dressed up. They walked differently and talked differently. The clothes they wore literally draped them in confidence, so from a young age I always knew the power that garments possessed and I wanted the ability to give women the platform to go about life confidently and unapologetically.
Who are some of your favourite South African designers and why?
I think right now Thebe Magugu has to be my favourite, purely because of how inspirational he is. All that he has achieved at 26 is nothing short of admirable.
I’ve also always loved David Tlale ever since I was a kid, watching him create all these elegant gowns, full of detail and opulence. He was the first South African designer I watched receive global recognition, something that seemed so impossible for me as child but he showed me that it was in fact possible.
I am also a fan of Palesa Mokubang. Her brand Mantsho has done exactly what I would like to do in terms of making my creations accessible to the people on the street. Her collaboration with H&M was so beautiful and its always great to see creations leave the runaway and enter pop culture and street style.
As a straight-A student who was accepted to study Medicine at UCT, why do you want to switch to fashion design?
I think I’ve always known that I was a creative but the world tends to feed children the idea that “safe” job options are the best and I fell into that trap. Being in a field where I couldn’t allow myself to dream, create or imagine really took a lot of me mentally and emotionally. At that point I decided that I wanted to happy, fulfilled and live my purpose. I really don’t consider it a switch but more me giving myself a chance to be myself.
How would you describe your unique point-of-view?
Self-expression would be a huge part of my brand. I want to create garments and give power to those wearing it, I want women to feel confident and empowered. I want to give them the platform to express exactly who they are. I come from a diverse background with a pan-Africanist view. I want to unify Africa in the creative space and I also want us to embrace our heritage through fashion, with our unique perspective, our colours and patterns. Africa has something very unique to offer and we deserve to have a voice on the global fashion platform. That’s my aim, to be a part of that moment.