Johannesburg - Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela didn’t know that her granddaughter had so many friends or that secrets could be kept from her. “I am told I can’t keep secrets,” she said, giggling.
Mam’ Winnie was referring to her granddaughter Swati Mandela, who has become well known, thanks to the 13-episode reality television show Being Mandela, on which she featured with her sister, Zaziwe Mandela, back in 2013.
While the show failed to impress, it gave us a glimpse into where this Mandela sees herself going – into the world of fashion.
On Tuesday evening, those with healthy cheque books gathered at The Park in Hyde Park for Swati’s big reveal. She announced her collaboration with Roi Kaskara, the makers of bespoke men’s suits.
The partnership will produce luxury capes and ponchos – but this will be one of many projects they plan to release.
Here's a look at one of the garments:
The room wasn’t filled with the usual Mzansi VIPs, and the mood was rather subdued as people sat around drinking wine, Champagne and cocktails from the bar, served with canapés. A violin trio kept guests entertained to tunes such as Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, while a ballerina danced in the centre of the room.
Then the elegant Zuraida Jardine took over as MC of the evening and lightened up the mood considerably, and the fashion show with models showcasing the designs began.
This ignited the proudest look on Mam’ Winnie’s face and she wore if for the duration of the show.
The evening included an auction of designs especially made for the occasion. Of the six items auctioned, two were donated back and auctioned again, helping to raise R226 500 on the night. That’s at least one container of the Long Walk to Freedom library meant to be sponsored.
The vision of the Swati and Roi Kaskara partnership is to take back the dignity, respect and awesomeness of women through their fashion – a fitting theme of honouring women. Hence, Swati presented her grandmother with a special Roi Kaskara scarf, covered in 491 pearls, each one representing a day she spent in prison.
“I am so proud of what we created ... this has been 20 years in the making for me. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to do something in fashion. I was going to make shoes and take over the world, but of course I didn’t go to design school,” Swati said.
“Years later I tried to make T-shirts, but that didn’t work. I realised over time that God has his plan and when it is ordained by God, it is perfect and it is beautiful. Swati by Roi Kaskara has been exactly that.”
About the women her brand represents, Swati said: “The Swati woman is strong, independent, aspires to be more, a mother, a wife, a businesswoman and a CEO.” This also includes those who “aren’t there yet” in their lives, but “want to get there”.
The Swati by Roi Kaskara designer, Vusi Hlatshwayo, said the brand would be available at the Roi Kaskara store at the Da Vinci Mall in Sandton, with merchandise priced between R15 000 to R40 000.
Mam’ Winnie pointed out that she was not there to talk politics.
“We have such difficult times in our country, and when I see all these faces that are here in the interest of our country and Swati, I am speechless,” she said.
“We should all look for projects that promote our country. We have a great responsibility, we have these difficult times, but I can assure you, we are going to overcome them. I am going to roll up my sleeves and get back to work. I promise you, we are going to sort out our country.