The inspiration behind Thuli Madonsela's Victory Gown

Thuli look magnificent in this Gert-Johan Coetzee dress (News24/Twitter)
Thuli look magnificent in this Gert-Johan Coetzee dress (News24/Twitter)

Johannesburg - Yes, the State of the Nation was all kinds of things last night. Whether you were angry about the protests, applauded the disruptions or were glued to your screens watching the red carpet arrivals, one person dominated the headlines.

Our Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela was hailed as the night's winner in her yellow Gert-Johan creation, appropriately named The Victory Gown.

And while Thuli remained humble in all the compliments flooding her way, we spoke to the man behind the dress, master designer Gert-Johan Coetzee.

Thuli's dress was bold and stood out on the night. What made you decide to go with yellow?

Last year she looked very elegant in the fitted, ombré coral dress we made for her, but this year we felt something more striking was appropriate. It was Advocate Madonsela's last SONA ever, so we wanted her to make as big an impact on the red carpet as she's made in her position as Public Protector.

Did Thuli put in any specific requests or do you have full power over the look?

She is wonderful to work with because she knows what she likes, and is also very open to suggestions. It really is teamwork, and we planned the whole look together. 

What did you take into consideration when making this dress?

Thuli Madonsela has the grace, dignity and understated power of royalty, and we wanted to emphasise that with a regal gown that befits her status. She has the bravery to stand firm when challenged, so she can pull off a bold colour choice. And we knew she would be in the spotlight at SONA, so we wanted her to shine. We named it The Victory Gown to celebrate what happened in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday - her walk down the red carpet really was a victory march!

Fun facts about her frock:

It took a month to make the dress.

It is completely hand-sewn, with a full train.

The lace used for the bodice is imported and had very limited availability.

Click here for a full glance at her frock.