Getting to know the designer behind Anele Mdoda’s Oscars red carpet dress

Anele Mdoda
Anele Mdoda

What was the inspiration behind Anele’s dress? 

It all started with the silhouette of the dress. I’ve worked with Anele for a long time now, and she wanted to do a plunging neckline as we’d never done that before. I looked for a fabric that was bold and striking, that would make Anele stand out on the red carpet. I found two amazing pieces at Mintys Fabric in Durban that we both fell in love with. I immediately knew that we had a winner! 

I loved the movement of the ostrich feathers that was on the fabric and wanted to continue this with a more dramatic effect at the top of the dress and sleeves. I added hundreds of beaded strands, and must give a massive shout-out to my grandmother who helped put them together. 

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How long did it take you to make it? 

I literally had five days! Anele asked me on January 29 — I bought the fabric two days later and had the first fitting on 1 February. The second fitting was two days later and the dress was delivered on 5 February. 

Take us through the making of the dress. 

I had the advantage of knowing her body shape and had patterns ready. Once the first fitting was done and it was perfect, I started sewing the dress in the actual fabric, ahead of the second fitting. I then added the zip, finished the hem and hand-sewed the beaded appliqué motives on the top and sleeves of the dress. My grandmother and I then got stuck in on the hand-beaded strands to add the finishing touch.

Who is Juan William Aria? 

After completing my B.A. degree at LISOF in 2009, I established my business in 2010. I specialise in bridal, evening and special-occasion wear. Our studio is in Little Falls, Roodepoort, and I’m 31 years young!

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Why did you choose fashion designing as a career? 

My uncle Gideon is a fashion designer and my biggest inspiration. I remember attending his fashion shows from the age of nine, and knowing that I would follow in his footsteps one day.

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