Zim can 'Vogue' it too

LONDON - My mother Ivy is very beautiful, everybody always remarks on it.

But beyond her outside appearance, there is an alluring mystery: it isn’t just physical.

Something within her is fascinating and ultimately a ‘‘bit unsettling’’.

I say the latter with respect, as when people call her beautiful, they are really talking about ‘‘that.”

She may not recognise it herself, but she has a winner’s attitude, that becomes even more apparent when she is not winning anything. You may wonder where I am going with this.

But the greatest lessons in life are generated from our very existence.

People look for success through many avenues, and yet it is right before them.

My mother may disagree with everything that I say about her, (bless her), but while she was raising three children, she did a very extraordinary thing — she built a very strong foundation for us. Now that is something money can never buy.

Success is plenty around us, we just do not know how to interpret what we see: how to piece together the story we have into a coherent picture.

Over the last couple of years, I have been bringing together my pieces.

I remember having a conversation with a British designer, who upon looking at my work exclaimed: “When did a simple Zimbabwean girl like you become so illegible?”

Sometimes you have to take people’s comments with a pinch of salt because ignorance is real. However, she continued digging — I let her, — “I have always admired Africans who are strong and really have a sense of themselves’’.

A few weeks later after this incident, I received an e-mail informing me that I had been nominated for …Wait I have to get this right —The Best International Emerging Fashion Accessory Designer, for Vogue and Muuse Talent.

This was for a collection of handbags I had previously exhibited at a gallery in London.

Now Vogue is very big, it does not matter which way you want to look at it.

It is perhaps the one thing that most designers have on their bucket list and for others it just remains that a bucket list.

So I am very proud (and don’t mess with my vibe), that for someone who has just been active in fashion for just over a year, (not counting my university years) I have made it this far.

I am writing this with a smile on my face.

I want to be able to encourage someone who is chasing their dream, or has had many doors shut in their face.
It is true anything is possible, only if you believe (Is that a song?). Those who know me, will vouch that my life in entrusted in God, that is the only rule book I live by.

I have had many discouraging moments in my life, and indeed every old dog has a story.

From this point on, it matters not what happened then, however, everyone’s testimony is a treasure, I say.

We all end up in situations were we are fighting some sort of struggle and it is so important to know and understand that many people fought that struggle way before you, and you will not be the last one. Sermon over!  It is true that “If your dreams do not scare you, then you have not started dreaming.’’

That just about sums me up. In my late thirties I became that little girl who plays with dolls and wishes they could become a credible designer.

I feel blessed because had I become what I am now in my younger days, my priorities would have been pretty messed up.

What I cannot still get my head round is that I got through three different stages with about 10 000 other international designers who included many who have been doing what I do now for a very long time, and ended up as a finalist.

Furthermore, I was the first African designer to ever be nominated for this award.

Throughout the process, many people congratulated me based on the fact that I was African, which I found myself correcting each time- African yes... but Zimbabwean really ( as if that made a difference). The Vogue nomination meant a lot to me because it presented me with the opportunity to experience the support of my fellow Zimbabweans.

A shoe designer from the Netherlands won the award last week.

I am not disappointed, but continue to be in awe of the opportunities that have come as a result of the nomination.

I have been giving the example of a contestant on Big Brother, who does not win, but goes on to do amazing things.

It is not always about the winning, it is the attitude that one maintains while chasing a dream that determines the bigger outcome.

I think the need for a constant “wow’’ has visibly crippled the talents of some fashion designers. We want to get everything out at once, and become that famous designer, who has celebrities wearing their designs.

Is it about being an African designer, or just being a good designer?

In a short space of time, I have had many lessons. My opportunities are certainly not just for me. No one is an island.

I continue to keep my feet on the ground. In the next few weeks, I will share with you what it has been like for a simple Zimbabwean girl like me to be a Vogue finalist.    There was a time when Westerners viewed Zimbabwe as just another African country, no more difficult to understand than the bird on its flag.

Zimbabwe is raising winners all the time. Like my grandmother always said “Winners raise winners”. Thank you mother!

*Pamela is a Zimbabwean fashion journalist and fashion accessory designer based in the United Kingdom. She can be contacted on pamsamasuwo@live.co.uk
 

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