For the love of fabulous

2013-12-04 11:00

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When it comes to gifts, stylish TV presenter Lerato Kganyago likes nothing more than goodies that add glam to the wardrobe she’s been revamping for years. 

If outfits could talk, she believes hers would tell the world how bold and ambitious she is. Lerato Kganyago – Miss Soweto 2004, presenter of SABC1 lifestyle show The Link and the face of two leading brands – no longer plays it safe when it comes to fashion.

As in life, she’s not afraid of taking risks, experimenting and having fun – which was very clear when she sashayed into the recent Feather Awards.

She arrived at the annual event – where the gay community honours local personalities – in a black see-through number that almost stole the show.

‘Artists express themselves on canvas. We fashion-lovers do it through our clothes,’ she says. ‘For the Feathers I asked Jerri Mokgofe, my stylist on The Link, to help me find a dress that screamed dramatic and fabulous – which many gay people are known to be.’

The result of his search was a dress by American drag queen and designer RuPaul, worn with high-waisted briefs and a sexy black bra.

‘I thought the dress would get me into trouble but the reaction I got was completely the opposite of that.’

We sat this follower of fashion down to talk about dream gifts, must-haves and more…

What’s your latest fashion obsession?

‘I’m mad about tunics. I love that they’re not tight-fitting yet they’re still sexy. Not everyone gets the look but they’re big in Europe now.’

What’s the most valuable item in your wardrobe? ‘My three Hermès bracelets – they were a gift from a close friend. I treasure them.’ [They’re usually priced upwards of $455, about R4 600.]

Name your wardrobe staples.

‘Shoes, jeans and leather jackets take up most of the space in my cupboard.’

Do you own any quirky items of clothing?

‘I have a pair of dungarees I bought in 2002 when they weren’t really in. I wore them once while presenting a show on Soweto TV and got mixed reactions. Some people called me crazy for wearing overalls on TV!

I recently found them hidden in my wardrobe somewhere and wore them with a tribal-print tank top. I was surprised at the number of compliments I received.’

Is there any fashion trend you’re relieved you skipped?

‘Let’s just say that I’m glad the skhothane bug never bit me!’ [She's referring to the craze where young people dressed up to the nines, whether they could afford to or not, and often burnt their outfits in a bizarre devil-may-care display.]

If your home were on fire and you could save only one item, what would it be? ‘My hands are so big I’d grab as many pairs of shoes as I possibly could! I’d rather be seen in the same outfit for a whole week than have to wear the same shoes every day. In fact, you’ve just reminded me that I need to insure my shoe collection.’ In the film biography of your life, which style icon would you choose to play you? ‘It would have to be Sarah Jessica Parker or the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley. I love how their fashion sense has evolved over the years.’

If you could change one thing about fashion, what would it be?

‘If I ran the local fashion scene, there would be no rules. I often hear people make silly statements, suggesting you can’t mix local and international designers together in one outfit or that you have to dress expensively from head to toe to be stylish.’

Say you’re hosting a dinner for fashionistas … who would you invite and what would you ask them?

‘Sarah Heaton – a local fashion blogger known as Sarah Langa who I follow on Instagram – Victoria Beckham and Khloé Kardashian. I think that Khloé is the underdog when it comes to fashion. I’d ask all three of them where they do their shopping – and if they could negotiate a bargain for me!’

What’s the best fashion gift you’ve ever received?

‘A long ring that covers my whole finger; it looks like a claw from a sci-fi movie. I got it from Jerri.’

And your dream fashionista gift?

‘A pair of Tom Ford over-the-knee boots. They’re the hottest, most versatile things ever – they work with any look. I’ve seen Bonang Matheba and Rihanna rocking them.’

Who’s your favourite local designer?

‘Khosi Nkosi is my absolute best. She’s taken tribal print and made it classy, modern, fun and wearable. She’s one of few local designers who knows South African women’s bodies well. Her cuts are just perfect.’

What do you spend most of your money on?

‘Shoes. I tend to forget the budget when shopping for shoes! Some people make fashion statements with their hair – I make mine with my shoes.’

How many pairs do you own – and where do you buy them from?

I buy them online and wherever I happen to find a good pair. I think I have more than 100 pairs. I love shoes that shout: ‘I’m here! Can you see me?’ On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I bought 11 pairs of shoes and came back with two extra suitcases. Sadly, South Africa fares poorly when it comes to shoe designs – they all look the same.’

What’s your secret to always looking on trend?

‘I worry when I’m asked this question because it feels like pressure. Fashionably speaking, I’m not even halfway where I want to be. But the first step I took in the right direction was in being less reserved when making fashion choices.’

What’s the most outrageous item on your wish list?

‘It has to be the Tom Ford boots I mentioned earlier. I think I may die from excitement if someone bought them for me.’

What did you wear to your first SA Fashion Week?

‘Loxion Kulca had asked me to design a swimwear range on their behalf. I wore a simple black dress because I was still playing it safe. That was last year.’

What’s the best thing your fiancé Katlego Mashego [the Mamelodi Sundowns striker] has ever bought you?

‘A pair of Miu Miu shades. Rihanna has a similar pair – did I mention that I’m the biggest RiRi fan? But my man is not into fashion so we’re definitely not the local version of Posh and Becks!’

What trend will you be wearing this holiday?

‘The kimono. Those who aren’t blessed with smooth thighs can get away with wearing this season’s bum shorts by covering up a bit with the kimono. It’s also ideal for the beach.’

What do you do with your old clothes?

‘I give them away to friends or our helper’s daughter. I don’t hang on to things that just fill up my cupboard.’

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