Tlale’s new Letsoku

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For the past two weeks, City Press, in collaboration with spree.co.za, has brought some style to your holidays with a free and extremely fabulous sheet of designer wrapping paper inserted into each edition of City Press for you to collect and use. The first of the designers was Rich Mnisi, then it was Craig Jacobs, and this week we bring you our final designer for the series – David Tlale.

We caught up with him in his Johannesburg studio, where he explained the origin of the print’s title, Letsoku, which the Tlale studio defines as “the visually graphic adornment of traditional South African women’s make-up”. It combines explosions of ochre with splashes of cobalt blue, black and white in myriad swirling, symmetrical forms.

“Letsoku is the simple format of how women, particularly Basotho or Pedi women, take the red stones, grind them together, apply water to it and use it like make-up. With that, we fused tiny elements of the geometrics from the Ndebele with the colours from Ndebele culture to create the three-colour palette. Cobalt blue is also the trending colour for the next few seasons, in case you didn’t know.”

The playful reimagining of traditional techniques makes Tlale’s aesthetic what it is. “Beyond anything else, we’re purely saying that Africa has moved on, and that it can be revolutionary, and we’re saying that anyone in the world can wear an African print.”

The holidays are going to be traditional for him and the extended family. “I’m looking forward to church – obviously – and lunch with my family at a long table, and some time to play with my nieces and nephews, who I haven’t spent enough time with lately,” he says.

The one thing every woman needs to have in her wardrobe next year? “Without a doubt it is a David Tlale power blouse, which is white and made out of Egyptian cotton. I believe it is a way to conquer the world but still keep your femininity around your shoulders at all times. It’s the perfect white shirt.”

Tlale’s Spree collection is available online, so go to spree.co.za for the perfect gift to put inside your brand-new gift wrap.

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