Motsepe-Moloi bags attention at fashion week

2014-07-27 15:00

While top local creations shimmered on the catwalks at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Cape Town, the talk in the corridors centred around Precious Motsepe-Moloi’s inability to hold on to her managers.

Industry gossips say that Motsepe-Moloi’s company, African Fashion International (AFI), changes top management faster than some people change their underwear.

Motsepe-Moloi?–?the wife of billionaire mining magnate Patrice Motsepe?–?worked for 20 years as a medical doctor before establishing AFI in 2008.

The company describes itself as “the leading fashion authority on the African continent” and hosts Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg, Cape Town and Africa.

Since it was established, the company has had seven bosses?–?at least. One industry insider told City Press: “I would say, is this the most fashionable job that no one can keep?

“Everyone in the fashion industry is talking about it.”

The source said fashion circles were abuzz over AFI’s executive “musical chairs”. Two other industry sources confirmed this.

Former AFI chief executive Paul Jackson was replaced by Hannelize Robinson as MD on January 1 2010.

Ten months later, marketing guru Paul Leisegang took over, but only for seven months.

Victor Rakhale took over the reins for a while, but then returned to MTN as the telecommunications giant’s general manager of direct sales.

This year Silvana Bottega, co-founder of the Southern Africa Luxury Association, was announced as the new managing director.

But according to sources, before Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week even hit Joburg ramps in March, she was already out.

After Bottega, Nicholas Maweni, who was previously in charge of communications at AFI, took over.

But Maweni has since been replaced by Sizwe Nzimande, ex-SABC group executive for sport, who left the public broadcaster last year to work for the Motsepe Foundation and the billionaire’s soccer club, Mamelodi Sundowns.

On Tuesday, Bottega admitted that her three-month tenure at AFI had been “short-lived”, although she was coy about the reasons. She spoke to City Press at a plush lunch to launch local designer Gavin Rajah’s affiliation to Unicef’s End Violence Against Children campaign.

At the event, complete with Moët Champagne and salmon sashimi, Bottega said she and Moloi-Motsepe parted ways as “friends” but she declined to say more.

Attempts to get a comment from AFI and Moloi-Motsepe were unsuccessful.

On Wednesday evening, Moloi-Motsepe greeted captains of industry and media with a graceful handshake at a gala function to launch fashion week at the Cape Town City Hall.

Mother City mayor Patricia de Lille was there in a signature pants-suit ensemble. The shimmery violet suit was made for her by upcoming local designer Hugo Flear.

Other dignitaries included Ministers of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Mthethwa wore a pin-striped suit and a green silk tie.

He said: “We’re going to create fashion incubators where designers will be given the tools they need.”

Meanwhile, Rajah’s Thursday show, which was inspired by the East, was sold out with celebrities lining the ramp.

Joburg radio personality Unathi Msengana, dressed in a bronzed sequined gown by Rajah, said she jetted to Cape Town especially to view his latest spring collection.

Other local stalwarts on show included KLûK CGDT, which normally dresses Charlize Theron when she visits South Africa.

Loin Cloth and Ashes from Joburg and Leigh Schubert from Durban, who designed South Africa’s 2012 Olympic tracksuit, also showed off their designs.

Fashionistas said that Akedo, the upcoming fashion label by Eleni Labrou?–?who won the AFI Fastrack initiative at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Joburg last year?–?was one to keep an eye on as a rising star in fashion design.

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