Johannesburg - Fashion only goes in one direction – forwards – and that’s been the case for Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, whose African Fashion International (AFI) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
As the owner and operator of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Joburg and Cape Town, as well as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa, AFI celebrated its decade in the industry in elegant style at The Meadway in Camps Bay, Cape Town, as part of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town event.
The party, on Wednesday night, was held inside a glass-walled marquee with beautifully framed chrome mirrors gracing the walls, and with three Grey Goose vodka bars and three Boschendal wine bars around to keep guests happy.
Stepping outside the marquee, one got just the right amount of sea breeze and a whiff of the ocean.
Looking exquisite in a Gavin Rajah gown with her curls swept perfectly to the side, Moloi-Motsepe made her speech and welcomed her guests.
She reflected on the past decade and the future of AFI. Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to hear her speak (despite the loudspeakers) because most of the guests were more interested in the bars and in socialising with each other.
Her husband, Patrice Motsepe, was visibly upset and walked towards the noisy revellers to ask for some silence, but he managed to only slightly calm the overzealous crowd.
“[About] 70% of start-ups do not make it past the first year, and only a third of those that succeed live to see their 10th year,” Motsepe-Moloi said.
“I fell in love with fashion thanks to my own mother, who was very charming, gracious and elegant. Just by observing her, I was moulded into the woman I am today.
“I also admired other women’s style, including Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Miriam Makeba, Coco Chanel and Adelaide Tambo. Their grace in their professions inspired me.”
She added: “Having travelled to many fashion weeks in Paris, Milan and New York, and after watching beautiful clothes being paraded down the runway, I always asked myself: ‘Where are African designers?’
“So when we formed AFI, I couldn’t think of anything else but to propel and encourage the continent’s talent, and to make sure that we can also see it represented globally.”
Rapper Riky Rick was at the event and didn’t want to speak about anything except fashion – he refused to be drawn into a conversation about his recent bust-up with record label Mabala Noise Entertainment.
But, in true Riky Rick style, he was effusive about AFI’s success.
“South African fashion is growing, so here’s a shout-out to organisations such as Mercedes-Benz and to people such as the Motsepe family for trying to push it to the next-next-next level,” he said.
Also at the event were Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his wife Philisiwe Buthelezi, who is the chief executive officer of the National Empowerment Fund.
Mthethwa said one of the key ways to get to know any nation around the world was to understand its fashion.
“It’s a core part of our department. We have encouraged and endorsed organisations such as AFI, which is important when it comes to unleashing economic potential in the country,” he said.
Just before a three-tier cake was cut by Moloi-Motsepe, Buthelezi was asked by the AFI team to give a bunch of flowers to their boss on their behalf.
Things became rather awkward when MC Marc Lottering became confused about who Moloi-Motsepe was, and referred to her as “the minister’s wife”. But Moloi-Motsepe graciously informed him of her real title.
The always lovely TV personality Minnie Dlamini was dressed in a sweet but sexy little black dress by Gert-Johan Coetzee.
Other guests included designer Thula Sindi, TV producer and businesswoman Carol Bouwer, actor Maps Maponyane, and actresses Thembi Seete and Terry Pheto.
(Photos: Supplied by City Press)