PMB fashion designer wins trip to ‘Big Apple’

2017-04-26 06:01
PHOTOS: gameplan mediaLeona Pillay soaks up the sights and sounds of the Big Apple at the World Trade Centre 911 memorial.

PHOTOS: gameplan mediaLeona Pillay soaks up the sights and sounds of the Big Apple at the World Trade Centre 911 memorial.

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FOR young Pietermaritzburg student fashion designer, Leona Pillay, the whirlwind that started with her entry into the Vodacom Durban Young Designer Award, presented by Durban Fashion Fair, ended with a trip to New York that changed her life forever.

Pillay, who studies at the Pietermaritzburg School of Fashion Design, blew the judges away with her blue-and-beige laser- cut ensemble that saw her come up trumps against a talented field of student designers at last year’s Young Designer Award finals.

Her prize, a trip to New York to attend the New York Fashion Week with the Vodacom Durban July Fashion Programme director Tiffany Prior, opened up a whole new avenue for her, who triumphed despite facing numerous challenges at the start of her fashion design career.

“Winning this trip to New York City was not only a dream come true, but a feeling I couldn’t contain,” she said on her return from the U.S. fashion capital.

“I still get emotional thinking about it today. Everything I did on this trip I had never done before.”

“Winning the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Awards was unexpected because I used to doubt myself, especially where I come from.”

Her interest in fashion started at school.

“I used to do sketches of clothing and found I was good at it.

“I wanted to see what I put on paper come to life, and knew I could do it through design.”

She thought her chances of pursuing a fashion career had faded when she fell pregnant shortly after matric, and she and her new husband moved in with her mother.

Pillay was raised by her mother, who despite being the sole bread winner, asked her to choose a career path that she would fund the training for.

“The first thing I said was fashion, without a doubt.

So with the help of my mom taking care of the little one, I was able to go to college.”

Her talent quickly took her to the top of her class at the Pietermaritzburg School of Fashion Design, which
celebrated when she was
announced the winner of the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award at the race day last year.

In April she jetted to the Big Apple, chaperoned by
Prior.

“I attended a show, getting up close with garments on the rail, and I visited the fashion institute, giving me some knowledge on African-American design history,” said
Pillay.

“One day I walked into the department store Saks and got blown away by branded garments being so crisp and stitched to perfection.

“If this is heaven, I’m so ready to die,” she told Prior.

“I learnt that fashion is so exciting.

“I also learnt that its okay to say you don’t know, it
just means there is room to learn.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, all that matters is where you wish to head,” said Pillay.

She advised student designers to get involved with the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award competition, and to use it as a growth point and learning experience.

The 2017 Vodacom Durban July takes place at Greyville Racecourse on Saturday
July 1.

More information can be found at www.vodacomdur banjuly.co.za


- Supplied.

If this is heaven, I’m so ready to die. I learnt that fashion is so exciting. I also learnt that its okay to say you don’t know, it just means there is room to learn

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