Orapeleng Modultle is one of Africa's most talented designers, for as far as I can remember, he has been a constant fixture at Fashion Weeks and fashion lovers and critics are always impressed by his designs.
His conceptual bravado is always matched by detailed showmanship which makes him the leader of the new age. Beyond his gorgeous gowns, there is a story of hope and resilience and we have decided to unpack the man behind the glamour in an in-depth Q&A that will shed light on the creative.
Growing up, have you always wanted to be a designer?
Definitely. I would watch my mother & grandmother sew. They were very much into hand-stitching and needlework and that made my insatiable curiosity for design and creativity expand. The artist in me was born through those moments of watching my mom do what she did and I became very eager to learn more about painting, drawing, sculpturing; essentially, anything that would allow me to translate my creativity with my hands.
When did you design your first garment and when did you know that this is something you really want to do?
I designed my first garment in varsity, in my room for a young lady who was attending her matric dance. She was my first client and we literally had to sew the garment on her.
Who was your first celebrity client?
When designing, what is your designing method?
My design method really begins with the theme. Once I have decided on the theme, my interpretation of it and the positioning that I want of it in my clothes becomes the focal point and then it’s just magic from there onwards.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from life. From my surroundings, from my dreams. Inspiration is a vision that I then translate onto the clothes. My Rose Garden collection was inspired by a garden in Italy and the floral tones of that surrounding. My latest collection “Princesses Beyond the Grave” was inspired by iconic women in fashion who have since passed on. So really, everything and anything about life, the beauty and the ugly of it, inspire me.
Your Mercedes Benz Collection was one of the best we have seen and the Maleficent inspired music was on point, how do you pick the songs for your shows?
The process of picking the music for my show is again based on the theme. The theme relates everything about the show. It’s not only about how it translates on the clothes but the way in which it is presented has to correlate. There needs to be a cohesion for the vision to come alive and music plays an integral part in ensuring that this happens and the translation is clear.
If you could dress any woman, who would it be?
Grace Kelly or Princess Diana. They both represent what the quintessential OM Style Avenue woman is.
Please describe the Orapeleng Modutle girl?
The Orapeleng Modutle girl loves to express her own romantic femininity, always with taste, sensibility and refinement. She makes the most of her own natural attributes
How do you distance yourself from previous collections to bring something new when designing a new collection?
Each new collection delves into a new space and speaks to something different, that’s where the distinction between each collection comes in. As much as we are a Bridal label that dabbles in Haute Couture, our collections have a different feel and aesthetic to them all while still being true to the OM Style Avenue signature which I feel is important. The collections needs to be different and fresh with each season but they should never disconnect from the image and signature of the brand.
What does it feel like being considered one of the best designers in Africa?
The recognition feels good. It feels great to be recognized so young in my journey and for my work and knowing that this is just the beginning makes it even more rewarding.
Your take on the South African business side of fashion? Can you make a living from it?
The business of fashion in South Africa is in its teething phase. We are still trying to work it out and iron out the kinks. While we still want to grow our brands and receive the recognition for them that will allow them to propel to greater heights, we still needs to make profits. There needs to be a point where the middle ground is leveled enough between recognition and profitable business practices.
Your proudest moment in your career thus far?
Being invited to showcase at the ARISE Fashion Week in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s one of the biggest showcases of fashion in Africa and being able to share the stage with designers such as LaQuan Smith and Ozwald Boateng means a lot to me and makes me beam with pride.
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Main image credit: Instagram/@photogeniustats