‘Ekaya’, meaning ‘Home’ in isiXhosa, is the first collection of O&R. It is owner and creator, Noor Thandi Modise’s interpretation and experience of the different tribes and cultures once she arrived in her country, South Africa, for the first time after many years in exile.
As part of Noor’s autobiography through her clothing line, Oscar & Rose, this chapter includes her interpretation of some of the tribes and cultures through the portraits of the South African women: the matriarchs of the tribes donned in their most prestigious traditional wear, which, like all African cultures, have vital meaning in their respective community.
The shift dress sits beautifully on any figure, shaping around the curves of its wearer. All the shift dresses from O&R were printed on scuba fabric: an unconventional fabric Noor chose for its modernity and light-weight texture, whilst not drawing any attention away from the spectacular designs of the ‘Ekaya’ collection.
The Ndebele Shift Dress
The vibrant crimson, blue and gold of this dress has a portrait of a Ndebele woman in her traditional wear which includes the Ndebele neck ring (Idzila). In more recent times, Idzila has become a fashion statement amongst young South Africans who are drawing inspiration from African-infused style trends. Noor combined the concept of a Western white-collared shirt with a dress, by making long sleeves in organza fabric and adding white cuffs. Beading was included to add a different dimension to the piece, accentuating the vibrant prints. It is also a part of the Ndebele culture to create beaded jewellery with intricate and significant designs.
The Ndebele Peacock Shift Dress
The isiNdebele tribe of the Mpumalanga and Gauteng areas inspired the exaggerated Ndebele prints on a black background. As a designer, Noor could not help but notice these beautiful elaborate designs. She felt that the patterns created by the women in the tribe had endless story lines that were driven through the bold black lines that meandered through the captivating bright colours.
The striking designs on this little cocktail number were created with the goal of dazzling others. The feathers were added as a flamboyant feature to the hem of the dress and the beads that were hand-sewn, following the Ndebele culture, contributed to the third-dimensional aspect of this piece.
The Venda Top
Ama-Venda are a proud but humble people. It was fascinating for Noor to discover that the Venda people existed as a lot more attention is given to the other South African tribes. As a token of respect, women are supposed to humbly sit on the floor with their legs folded, whilst leaning on one arm as depicted in Noor’s illustration. Thus, it is the only illustration in the ‘Ekaya’ collection that depicts the whole body.
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