IN PICS | Behind the seams of Miss SA: designers dish on the striking looks

25 October 2020 - 07:30 By Thango Ntwasa
Miss SA 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida in a gown by Orapeleng Modutle.
Miss SA 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida in a gown by Orapeleng Modutle.
Image: Supplied/Miss SA

Shudufhadzo Musida may have ultimately won the Miss SA crown, but each of top 10 finalists served winning looks during the pageant’s finale, which took place on Saturday at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town.

Here, the local designers responsible for creating the wardrobe for this glamorous event let us in on the inspiration behind their designs.


The finalists made a striking first impression in monochromatic looks by House of Fabrosanz during the pageant’s pre-filmed opening sequence, which could have come straight out of a 007 blockbuster.

Founder Sandi Mazibuko says that she chose smart casual outfits in the brand’s signature Nguni prints as these patterns give a strong nod to SA culture.


Mzukisi Mbane of Imprint and Tracy Efstathiou of TracyB Swimwear teamed up to make a big splash for the swimwear modelled by the top 10.

Efstathiou tackled the costumes, while Mbane created the outerwear in bold, abstract prints that “leave an imprint” — something he’s become famed for doing with his designs.

Mbane was conscious that the swimsuit portion of a beauty pageant can be quite controversial, with those opposed to it saying that it objectifies women. As such he took care to ensure each contestant felt confident in what she was wearing.

“A lot of the women are celebrating being comfortable in their bodies. I think that’s an element a lot of people always forget when they look at swimwear as something that objectifies women in a pageant,” he explains.


Simplicity was key when designer Lena-Lisa Retief of Lena Lisa was creating the evening gowns the contestants wore next.

“The beauty of the ladies is the most important aspect, so we tried to keep the look plain and elegant so that the girls’ features would pop more than the dresses,” she explains.


Five designers were each tasked to create the final looks for a pair of contestants. Their brief was to dream up evening gowns to fit with the theme ‘Rainbow Nation’.

Juan Visser of Juan William Aria was heavily inspired by the evening wear of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when designing intricately beaded gowns for finalist Karishma Ramdev and first runner-up Thato Mosehle.

As Anel Botha of Anel Botha Couture was unable to meet finalists Jordan van der Vyver and Lebogang Mahlangu, she scoured their social media accounts to find out more about them in order to create dresses that would embody their “shining personalities”.

The remaining designers looked to the glorious Miss SA uBuhle crown for inspiration.

Sello Medupe of Scalo Designer, who dressed finalsit Busisiwe Mmotla and second runner-up Natasha Joubert in yellow and green respectively, wanted to compliment each finalist’s skin tone as well as the colourful crown with its sculptural design.

Orapeleng Modutle of Orapeleng Modutle Style Avenue collaborated with winner Musida and finalist Aphelele Mbiyo to find the best way to reinterpret their heritages as a means of embodying African luxury, which he believes the uBuhle crown personifies. 

The design of the Miss SA uBuhle crown pays homage to traditional Ndebele patterns.
The design of the Miss SA uBuhle crown pays homage to traditional Ndebele patterns.
Image: Supplied/Miss SA

The racial, cultural, gender and sexual diversities of everyone involved in the pageant informed the bold looks Neville Masondo of La Art Neviole Emporium created for finalists Melissa Nayimuli and Chantelle Pretorius.

“The crown is such a masterpiece on its own and I didn’t want something that would clash with it,” Masondo adds, “I had to imagine how the contestants would potentially look wearing that beautiful crown.”