ZIMBABWE: Top Designer to Grace Culture Week

SHE has created some of the best outfits for the continent's leading actors, business leaders, media personalities and singers.

Her clothes are on demand in Zimbabwe and South Africa with Europe beckoning.

This is the fashion and design world of Joyce Chimanye, whose range of African designs should cause a stir among fashion followers and buyers during the International Fashion Show to be staged as part of the Culture Week from 20 to 25 May.

Chimanye is among eight fashion designers and fashion design houses scheduled to participate in a fashion show whose theme is "Spirit Of Africa."

Dimunitive and light skinned, Joyce Chimanye has managed to grow from humble beginnings, as an ordinary Zimbabwean girl studying in a foreign country, to someone now creating clothing ranges that have endeared her to top personalities and fashion houses on the continent.

She is now designing top-of-the-range clothes for them all - African music stars, media personalities, business tycoons and beauty queens who now prefer to have their lifestyles distinguished by her pan-African creative mind.

All set to showcase her new range at the forthcoming International Show to be held during the Culture Week, end of May, Joyce Chimanye has always wanted to play a major part in the development of purely African attire in a world dominated by Eurocentric fashion.

"I have always been challenged by the desire to change the misconception that Eurocentric clothes are the best out there. That Africa cannot have a fashionable dress code we can put on the international map."

Joyce Chimanye shot to fame in South Africa, where she attained a Diploma in Fashion and Design at the Cape Town based academy of Fashion.

Whilst in that country she discovered that its people were keen to see new and different designing by a young and aspiring African artist.

This was unlike at home where many still occupy themselves with western fashion concepts at the expense of developing theirs.

She sees this attitude turning into something positive with developments like the inauguration of Culture Week.

"Culture Week is an idea we should all support because it gives us lattitude to propel our own home grown but universally accepted African inspired type of clothing."

What are her expectations in the Culture Week? "The event presents us with an opportunity to interact with our own people while at the same time exposing us to a wider market."

A busy and dedicated fashion designer, her work experience includes designing, pattern making and merchandising for three leading garment manufacturers in Harare before going solo.

She now runs a small studio -Wardrobe Exclusive, which has a staff compliment of 10 workers.

Wardrobe Exclusive is currently supplying a leading chain of stores in Zimbabwe (the Country Roads Chain of Stores) with a ladies range as well as doing corporate wear for selected companies and haute couture for a select clientele.

Wardrobe Exclusive's reputation has grown tremendously in recent years such that it now has three trendy labels - Wardrobe Exclusive, Rivers Natural Wear and The Hanger.

The Chegutu based designer has participated in many prestigious fashion shows among them the Rothmans (1996), Newbury (1997) and Natbrew (1998) design competitions, winning in the later. She successfully put together a range of garments for the Miss Zimbabwe Pageant for all the regional contestants in September 2001.

In November 2001 she worked on a range for the Kora Fashion Show in South Africa and did the gown for the current Miss Malaika 2001.

She has also been contracted to do "a small range" for one of Africa's leading singers and songwriters Brenda Fasie.

Recently, she provided a range of ladies and men's garments for the Super Model 2002 Show in Harare and the photo shoot in Mauritius.

Outside this busy creative life, Joyce finds time to do work for the underprivileged with an organisation she co-founded last year and based in Chegutu called Vana Vedu Children's Foundation.

There, the children are taught garment making and art lessons as well as getting remedial lessons.

Always searching for new and original ideas, Chimanye is currently creating a new Afro-centric label Zuwa - which incorporates an exciting crouques range.

To experience her world of African clothing and more by her colleagues, make a date with Culture Week.

April 30, 2002

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Added: April 30, 2002
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