Quietly working behind the scenes, local designer gets recognition

2013-10-02 00:00

BEHIND the designers there are numerous people who help put together a show-stopping outfit, but are not as largely recognised as those who make their grand entrance upon the runway.

Happily working behind the scenes is local fashion designer Vanessa Pillay from the Bluff, who has no qualms about cutting into the designers’ work — to give life to the designer’s drawings.

The designers give her the drawings, she then makes sure they are cut to the exact measurements for the garment to begin to take shape. Her skill has also caught the eye of the Durban designers participating at the South African Fashion Week this Friday.

“I was approached by Greg Wallis, ex-chairperson of the KZN Fashion Council, to assist four designers with making the master pattern for their designs that they will be showcasing this Friday,” said Pillay.

She recently started her very own company called V-a-Belle! Designs and Pattern Consultants and is also a member of the KZN Fashion Council.

Pillay said: “I consult for various companies in the industry that supply chain stores and by participating in SA Fashion Week would certainly bring exposure for me as a local designer.

“However, I have encountered many challenges when doing patterns, as board is different from fabric and if the right specifications are not given, there will be alterations because of fabric reactions. Or sometimes the designer does not use the appropriate fabric for a particular design. This is why it is important for all designers to have a very sound knowledge of fabrics, pattern construction and body measurements,” she added.

Pillay has used her designs and abilities to create astounding patterns to help with various charities and prides herself on the work she does helping others.

“I have used my skills and talent to help promote child development and community development. I have recently launched my own bridal wear label which endorses charity, hence my motto ‘Design with a purpose’,” she said.

“Having a mom and dad who were in the clothing industry helped a lot, although sometimes I am driven by self-motivation. Being a black designer in the ’80s was very challenging and now that there is so much more opportunity, I want to seize every moment!”

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