SA Fashion Week 16: By DS celebrates South African iconography

The 2016 South Africa Fashion Week was largely dominated by designers who offered interesting take on design either via silhouette manipulation or a unique aesthetic. So it was with almost nostalgic relief that we took in emerging label By DS’s debut at the showcase with a collection almost exclusively focusing on and inspired by fabric prints.

D.S, the creative director behind the eponymous label has always been interested in the evolution of the motifs and prints that have now become synonymous with African fashion. She’s studied the histories and etymological origins of the dashiki, ankara and other iconic prints, coming away better informed and with this wealth of knowledge in textile creation, the label set about creating their first collection.

For a debut, By DS is surprisingly deft. Using art silk, cotton, a light tafetta and stretch cotton, D.S creates a light, airy collection of jumpsuits, cape kaftans and summer ready dresses. But the true star of this collection are the prints. Sidestepping the identikit African inspired wax prints that have become ubiquitous with print fashion in the continent, the label makes its own, drawing inspiration from the bright colours that have become synonymous with the style but manipulated in the label’s unique way.

The label creates distinct prints by using fractals and kaleidoscopes, splicing and duplicating until the motif is distinct but visually enthralling. It is a beauty to watch the clothes flutter down the S.A Fashion Week runway.

Even when D.S dabbles in something as blasé as graphically imposed images on fabric, D.S is able to graphically manipulate the image enough to keep it interesting, and her choice of images are thought provoking and reference a South Africa beauty standard that is oft not celebrated.

It is really hard to believe that this is only their debut. We expect great things from them.

Photo Credit:

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The online destination and fashion journal that goes beyond the surface and taps the pulse on all things FASHION. First out of Nigeria and increasingly across the continent, with wit, intelligence and humour.


TSS is an arm of the RED brand, which is the continent's largest omni-media group focused on Africa's youth.