Inspired by . . . Minnie Mouse?

By Kirstin Buick
09 October 2013

Local designer Suzaan Heyns became the first African to be chosen as one of the 11 international designers to create ‘Minnie Mouse Must Haves’: one-off garments and accessories inspired by Minnie Mouse, which were showcased at London Fashion Week and auctioned on eBay to support BFC/Bazaar Fashion Arts Foundation. She showed off her range at SA Fashion Week.

The Inspired by Minnie is a Disney campaign that was launched last year to pay tribute to the beloved mouse and girlfriend of Mickey Mouse. Eleven international designers created ‘Minnie Mouse Must Haves’: one-off garments and accessories inspired by Minnie Mouse, which were showcased at London Fashion Week and auctioned on eBay to support BFC/Bazaar Fashion Arts Foundation. Local award-winning designer Suzaan Heyns became the first African designer to create a range, which she showed off at SA Fashion Week last week.

Suzaan Heyns Q&A

How does it feel to be the first designer on the African continent to be part of this worldwide initiative?

It’s an incredible honour to have been selected to showcase my take on a campaign that celebrates one of Disney’s leading style icons and has been associated with so many fashion design greats the world over.

Nude wool shift dress wrapped in an exaggerated bow.

What elements of Minnie Mouse inspired you in this collection / drew you to the Inspired by Minnie campaign?

What drew me to Minnie Mouse was her perfectly engineered and timeless design, proportionately based on the age-old golden ratio principal. Drawing out the shapes at the core of Minnie’s DNA – her ears, eyes, bows, gloves and signature polka dots – became the springboard for this collection with influences as far apart as science and art finding their way into the clothes.

Classic tux reinvented with encrusted eyes, and jacket lapel inspired by Minnie's ears.

Describe this collection in one word.


What is it about Minnie Mouse that inspires so many generations?

Minnie Mouse has been an inspirational character since her first appearance as Mickey Mouse’s sweetheart in 1928. She’s a timeless beacon of femininity and the embodiment of fun – an icon with classic appeal, yet a contemporary spirit.

What makes her character or design timeless?

I found Minnie’s design to be rooted in mathematics revolving around shape and proportion. Ideal proportion enhances and elevates a given shape to show itself at its most desired and adored state – a fine line between symmetry and balanced disposition, a principal found in all timeless design and that I found embedded in Minnie through the application of the golden ratio. This, paired with her iconic silhouette, signature bows and polka dots which have remained in style since the day she first appeared on the fashion scene, made her an ideal and truly inspiring muse.

Tell us about the journey you went on from inspiration, conceptualization, through to the final design.

I find it to be quite an organic process that varies with every collection. It could start with a trip, sketch or a mood board that opens the door to further exploration. Inspiration may stem from completely different aspects in life and I’m a firm believer that every collection manifests from these influences. For me a design is never finalised in what I may have originally sketched or plotted on a pattern, but starts to reveal itself when I put it on a body and let the shape and silhouette guide it to its final form.

Fashion in South Africa – hot or not?

South Africa is without a doubt a melting pot of creativity and diversity. The industry is definitely growing, driven by a big wave of new talent around - but with even well established designers not making bank, you have to be endlessly tenacious and


Any advice to aspiring fashion designers?

It’s incredibly important to stay true to your own design language and trust your gut. Regardless of prescribed trends and methodologies. Break the mould and forge a unique identity that will set you apart from the masses. - Gilda Van Schalkwyk Share your thoughts:

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