Behind the seams of 'Uzalo': two brides and a 'social distancing' wedding dress

Wardrobe mistress Nokubonga Ngobeni talks us through the fashion choices for the popular soapie's dramatic double wedding episode

22 July 2020 - 07:00 By Thango Ntwasa
A diamante net face mask added drama to the bridal look of Nonka (Thuthuka Mthembu) during the 'double wedding' episode of 'Uzalo'.
A diamante net face mask added drama to the bridal look of Nonka (Thuthuka Mthembu) during the 'double wedding' episode of 'Uzalo'.
Image: Supplied

While most of us have been dressing down during lockdown, the characters of popular soapie Uzalo recently had the chance to dress up for an episode featuring a dramatic double wedding, which aired earlier this month.

For the show's producers, sourcing show-stopping outfits for the groom Sibonelo (Wiseman Mncube), his two brides Nonka (Thuthuka Mthembu) and Sphilile (Tee Xaba), and their wedding guests proved trickier than you’d think.

Nonka (Thuthuka Mthembu's) bridal gown was jokingly called the 'social-distancing' dress because of the width of its full skirt.
Nonka (Thuthuka Mthembu's) bridal gown was jokingly called the 'social-distancing' dress because of the width of its full skirt.
Image: Supplied

“It was so difficult,” explains Nokubonga Ngobeni, Uzalo’s award-winning wardrobe mistress.

“Some shops were still open when we were preparing for [the wedding episode] under lockdown level 4, but there were sections where we couldn’t buy certain clothes or hire them out.”

We asked Ngobeni how she got around these challenges, and how she keeps the show’s characters looking stylish while being masked-up on screen:

You were one of the first TV series to start showing the cast in face masks. Tell us more about this decision, and how you pick the face masks for each character.

Everyone was still a little shaky about when we needed to introduce the idea of masks, but it was finalised by our creative directors because this is our new normal, so we had to figure out how we were going to put it into the story.

Some of the characters have plain masks because they are characters who don’t have that much of a fashion sense, but characters like MaNgcobo (Dawn Thandeka King), Fikile (Nelisa Mchunu) and Sbu (Simphiwe Majozi) have funkier masks that speak to their characters.


'Uzalo's' Tee Xaba: Personally I’m a sucker for love but I'd never consider polygamy

Subscribe for free: iono.fm | Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Pocket Casts | Player.fm 


For instance, MaNgcobo has sequinned masks, Fikile has masks that have tassels and buttons, and Sbu has a snood-type mask like those we wear behind the scenes.

You struggled to buy/hire bridal dresses for Uzalo's double wedding episode due to lockdown restrictions. Where did you end up sourcing their outfits from?

We figured out that we should use designers here in KwaZulu-Natal (where Uzalo is filmed). I got a local fashion brand, Sistas Felas, to help with the dresses. The designer also helped with the styling.

Tell us more about the design of Sphilile’s wedding dress.

Sphilile’s Covid-19 wedding look is a ballgown, but it’s not the typical ballgown people are used to with chiffon and a lot of layers on it. It has got a lot of panels and we actually called it the “social distancing” dress — you couldn’t get closer than 2m to her because of how wide the skirt is!

We added a diamanté net as a face mask because the dress alone was going to look too plain.

Groom Sibonelo (Wiseman Mncube) looked dapper in a black tux with velvet lapels.
Groom Sibonelo (Wiseman Mncube) looked dapper in a black tux with velvet lapels.
Image: Supplied
Sphilile (Tee Xaba)'s bridal gown featured a detachable overskirt which gave the effect of a train as she walked down the aisle.
Sphilile (Tee Xaba)'s bridal gown featured a detachable overskirt which gave the effect of a train as she walked down the aisle.
Image: Supplied

And Nonka’s wedding dress?

For Nonka, we decided to go with a boob-tube dress with a [detachable] peplum overskirt. We decided to make it a bit more fitted because although she’s a little tiny we wanted to show off her body. It wasn’t practical to add a mask to her outfit, although we had it on standby for the bridal pictures when she would wear it.

Talk us though the groom’s outfit.

We couldn’t give him a white tux because he would clash with the brides, so we went with a black one instead. As it’s a winter wedding [we chose] a tux [with velvet lapels] and a velvet bow tie, which we hired from a local men’s boutique NP Creations.

Uzalo's more fashion-conscious characters tend to wear funkier masks on screen, says the show's wardrobe mistress Nokubonga Ngobeni.
Uzalo's more fashion-conscious characters tend to wear funkier masks on screen, says the show's wardrobe mistress Nokubonga Ngobeni.
Image: Supplied

What can viewers look out for in terms of the other guests at the wedding?

We really thought out of the box with this wedding special. If you look at Njeza (Nkanyiso Makhanya), Thulani (Thulani Shange) and Godfather (Sizwe Khumbuza), you will see their looks are something you would not expect from them.

Sibonelo's mother Gabisile (Baby Cele), who is always dramatic, is in bright green Nigerian-inspired attire because her son is getting married and who is she not to be seen?

Lilly’s (Noxolo Mathula) outfit is also by Sistas Felas. She’s wearing a sequinned red-and-black two-piece and it’s quite nice that she has a matching face mask.