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Sphalele going places

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MBABANE-Sphalele Magagula, the brain behind ‘Fashion Lounge’ spoke about how she and Cel’musa Vilakati joined hands to establish the fashion house.

Fashion Lounge was formed last December after Magagula and Vilakati had met at the launch of Bongi Gray’s Swaziland Fashion Week in April last year. She said she saw Vilakati’s designs and thought he was the missing link.

The Fashion Lounge’ is based in Manzini Tiger City

Magagula, who is also an image and style consultant, said she dealt with a lot of people who came looking for her services. She has been in the fashion design business for years and is helping one of Emakhosikati to His Majesty the King dress up differently and stylishly.

The Entertainment Desk had an interview with the designer and below is how she responded to questions;

Entertainment Desk: When did you fall in love with designing?

Sphalele Magagula: "It must have been when I was eight years or so. I would make clothes for my doll with old clothes of mine which always landed me with a serious heavy sentence, a thorough beating."

ED: When then did you decide to pursue it?

SM: "It had always been a hobby, working from home with no pressure whatsoever.  I  started  designing and  tailoring  in  2000,  but  I  had a tough time because  I  taught  myself and so it was trial and error most of the times. I then went to study in South Africa and qualified with an Internal Auditing Degree. While I was there, some clients would travel all the way to ask me to design their garments, mostly for weddings and proms. Designing became a real business and profession for me when I won the 2007 Young Fashion Designer of the year. I got premises and increased my capacity by employing staff."

ED: Did you ever dream you would be designing for an ‘Inkhosikati’, and all the other celebrities in Swaziland?

SM: "Deep down yes, just like we all think we will be millionaires some day, but honestly it did not look practical. I was not that confident that my designs would appeal to people of such status. I also had this twisted idea that drove me up and down like a head- less chicken. I had this fear and I would always miss opportunities that would have exposed me fully. All that changed when I met Inkhosikati, she is so creative and our designs compliment each other. When I describe an idea to her, she understands it even before I finish. Sometimes I have to convince clients about a certain style, some would accept reluctantly, only to be shocked by the awesome outcome later. With Inkhosikati, I do not have to convince her at all because she is so style enlightened and understands from the word go. Most of her garments we design together, which is so encouraging because she has an idea of the end product.

ED: What is it like to work with celebrities? Do you ever get nervous being around them?

SM: "Working with them is alright, but I do approach them with major respect like I do with all my clients. Working with royalty though is different as the respect issue is stepped up."

ED: Have you ever designed anything for someone, only for them to say "No, I do not like that?"

SM: "Yes and no. No because it was not my design but she brought it from a magazine and insisted on it which was against my advice, considering the body shape. Eventually she agreed to my proposed design and she was happy.

ED: Are any of your customers difficult?

SM: "I have one, but I handle her well, my staff gets frustrated sometimes though, so I always request her to come in when I am at the studio. However, I have a few, three at the most whom I just had to give red cards. I can handle a lot but I cannot stand utter rudeness, and so I would not design for them under any conditions."

ED: Honestly, what is your favourite item that you designed?

SM: "It would have to be the outfit I wore when receiving my award. The other one was the one I designed for Inkhosikati LaDube for the 40/40 State Banquet."

ED: Do you design your own clothes?

SM: "Yes, not as often as I wish. However, I always design the clothes that I wear to functions."

ED Name one other Swazi designer you admire and you think is your competition?

SM: "I admire Mimi Magwaza and Cel’musa Vilakati; I do not see them as competition at all. I believe our designs compliment each other, I am working with Celmusa so I feel I am well balanced, I would love to do a collaboration with Mimi."

ED: So does this really bring in the money, even though you are doing it for love?

SM: "Yes it does. In any business you have to build your name before the cash starts rolling. Right now I am working at building my brand; so long as I break even I am fine. Honestly, the money is there."

ED: Any plans on expanding?

SM: "Oh yes. Just watch this space"

ED: Who are your most frequent clients?

SM: "Inkhosikati LaDube (most of her clothes), Senani Khumalo, Lomahlubi Matiwane, Nkosing’phile Mbhamali, Mphumi Mdlalose, Nomphumelelo Dlamini and Frasier both presenters on Swazi TV."

ED: What do you think of the designing industry in Swaziland? Is it getting anywhere?

SM: "It is getting somewhere indeed; hosting the Swaziland Fashion Week is proof enough."

ED: The first time you saw your designs in the newspaper, how did you feel?

SM: "I was ecstatic"

Tell us at least five to nine things about you that we are not aware of you?

1. Been featured in a Grade Six text book. (Practical Arts).

2. I am born again and sing in the Living Waters Church of the Nazarene Praise Team.

3. Was crazy about minis when I was in high school.

4. I wore the Swazi colours in 1997 as I was in the Swaziland National Swimming Team.

5. Snakes fascinate me.

6. I get turned off by ill mannered people.

7. I am crazy about babies.

8. Can never bring myself to discipline a child by beating her, I always feel guilty so I never do it anymore. (Do not tell my niece though.)

9. I have never gone clubbing.

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