Actress, fashion designer and TV host Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa has started 2020 on a high note after her Essie Apparel fashion line was featured in this month’s edition of the prestigious Vogue Italia magazine. The publication, the Italian edition of Vogue, is known as the top fashion magazine in the world and a world leader in unearthing the globe’s best designs. Its latest edition features two outfits from Mlotshwa’s fashion line: a flowing white number and a black bodysuit.
Mlotshwa said she was approached by Vogue Italia in December and could hardly believe it when her designs were featured. She said it was a testament to the impact black African women can have on the world. I think too often women are placed under a label of marriage and other things, and that is what their success is attributed to. A woman’s success never really belongs to her,” she said.
Her designs from her autumn/winter 2020 collection were created by merging several European, Asian and African influences, and she said this fusion came from growing up not feeling “African enough”. I have always grown up in an awkward space where I was not African enough because I was light-skinned or because of the shape of my body. This has helped me to play with African styles while also adapting them to European styles. Being African and wanting to feel African but having a European closet has helped open my mind.
Mlotshwa’s first taste of the fashion world was when she was 17 and styled singer Keabetswe “KB” Motsilanyane for her diva tour. She launched a maternity wear range, SE Preggoz, in SA and New York City in 2015 and teamed up with local couture duo Quiteria & George in 2018 to design a high-fashion dress for US megastar Beyoncé’s performance at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 concert in Johannesburg.
She said she had been invited to a prestigious international fashion week later this year but wanted her global success to grow organically. I don’t want to rush anything. I want to get on the international stage and really blow them away. Right now I am still in my development stages,” she said.
Last year Mlotshwa not only showcased her fashion at South African Fashion Week but starred in several TV shows, including her own talk show. But it was also a tough year for her after she and DJ Black Coffee split up. I made a conscious effort not to talk about my private life and it has worked for me so far. I want to keep that same energy this year,” she said.
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