Designer lives her dream

HARARE - Nompumelo Marilyn Samambgwa, (MS) a top local designer eats, breathes and lives fashion.

The Daily News on Sunday Entertainment Writer Sharon Muguwu (SM) spoke to the talented 26-year-old who recently showcased her designs at the just-ended Zimbabwe Fashion Week which include swimwear.

SM: Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

NS: Fashion is the air I breathe and my lifestyle. I could not live from any other profession. When I was 19 I attained a Diploma in Information Technology but I just could not do it.

In 2010 I took a short course in sewing and pattern making at Harare Polytechnic College where one of the lecturers saw the passion and talent I had and advised that I take it up full time then I ended up at Danhiko Fashion School for certificate level before enrolling with Chinhoyi University of Technology School of Art and Design where I am in my final year. So really I am not that experienced, I am still learning at the same time creating a brand and tapping into a niche.

Being a fashion designer is my sole calling.

SM: Who is Marilyn?

NS: I am Nompumelelo Marilyn Samambgwa, the first born of two girls. I was raised between Masvingo and Harare. I’m the head designer for my Label Noe Es. I love the culinary arts, writing poems, collecting keys and art pieces, attending creative festivals, photography, bird watching and music is a big part of my life.

SM: What is your favourite part about being a fashion designer?

NS: Being a fashion designer means I can be my own boss and I get to do exactly what I want, how I want and I don’t have to work conventional working hours. I work from midnight till everyone wakes up. I love expressing my eccentric thoughts by creating fashion. Most importantly help people look and feel good in my creations that accessorise their beauty.

SM: How do you select the materials you use?

NS: Fashion creations extensively depend on the seasons. Winter/fall requires heavier fabrics and summer/spring requires lighter fabrics. Occasions also determine the type of materials to use for a customer.

SM: Describe your designs, what are they all about?

NS: I love avante garde; I am mostly inspired by the Goth and rock music cultures (now those creations are just to flex my artistic muscle). However, I have individual customers with bold personalities who come with their ideas that I then encode and translate into Noe eS specific couture. I also create most of the clothes I wear so basically my designs are all about individualism, elegance and convenience.

SM: How are your clothes different from the other designer?

NS: Noe eS is not merely a brand of fashionable clothes, it is a brand that captures all the different perks about being beautiful, individual and confident. My clothes are timeless, bold and specific. I do not have a “one style fits all” approach to my creations.

SM: How did you get into fashion?

NS: I was raised in a very artistic family and fashion was a big part of our lives. When I was 14 I was put in a science class and the best part was when we drew in physics, chemistry and biology classes. I started drawing a lot in my spare time, which led to fashion illustration. Then when I was 17 I met fashion designer Creed Katsande, at that time I was flirting with recycled paper creating artefacts. Katsande was impressed with my art and invited me to a graduation fashion show where I was mesmerised by Maita Marimo and Tonderai Chikosi’s fashion creations it was at that time I decided it wasn’t going to be about recreating my clothes but taking it up as a profession. Unfortunately at that time fashion school was expensive.

SM: What is your definition of fashion?

NS: Fashion is how easily a woman or a man exudes elegance and confidence in such a way that it births style. It is not about the trends or what is popular it is a je ne se qui that comes with individualism and charisma. I live by the code ‘Style is an expression of individualism mixed with individualism mixed with charisma’. Fashion is what comes after personal style.

SM: What is your favourite season for fashion?

NS: I love them all. Winter/fall usually features the dull colours that I love the most especially black. Summer/spring presents the softer colours like the pastels and the clothing is minimal (I love minimal dressing). Gun to my head I’d choose summer for the minimal clothing factor.

SM: Who inspires you the most in fashion? Anyone who stands out?

NS: I am an admirer of outrageous, statement making insane fashion such as the creations of Stephanne Rowland, John Galliano and DSquared2 as well as demure, quietly elegant freshness that is known of Karl Lagerfeld with a mixture of Ellie Saab. I was blessed with two amazing designer friends Adby Phiri and Tapfumanei Munenge. These insanely creative souls challenge me artistically, they are my local inspiration.

SM: What do you consider the most important facets of the fashion industry?

NS: A flexible and thriving textile manufacturing industry. Textiles inspire fashion creation, be it accessories or even trends.

SM: How would you describe your personal style?

NS: This is a tricky question. Especially since I dislike sticking to a conventional habit for long. My style has pieces of anything from super feminine to masculine pieces. So my style is dependent on my mood really. Right now I am in the process of re-inventing myself mind, soul and personal style. My hair will always be natural dreadlocks but colour enhanced.

SM: Where have you showcased your designs?

NS: A couple of years back I showcased at Harare Fashion Week curated by the late Novell Zwangendaba, at the City Bowling Club which was not well-known. At Chinhoyi University I created F.A.T.E (Fashion Art Technology Environment, an organisation that caters to all artists visual and technical alike) and I showcase every semester as we host Exhibition Nights. At the Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2013 young designers’ competition I was nominated for best young designer. Next was Clothing Indaba Bulawayo 2013. Recently I graced Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2014 as well as Clothing Indaba Bulawayo 2014 where I won second runner up in the upcoming designers’ category.

SM: What do you consider to be one of your biggest showcases?

NS: So far I would say Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2014. It was a particularly memorable one as I ventured into almost untouched territory and showcased my first ever swimwear collection. It was purely an experimental collection. All thanks to Priscilla Chigariro for the most amazing opportunity.

SM: Who do you cater for in terms of sizes?

NS: Every size because I would be crazy not to. This is Africa where we have all shapes and sizes everywhere and it would be ill advised not to make all sizes welcome. This is why Noe eS handles a tailor made approach to its clients, that way everyone gets a bit of the action.

SM: Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection?

NS: Yes an exhausting and extensive one. I watch a lot of Fashion TV and download tonnes of fashion shows from world over. But mostly I believe everything old teaches something valuable. So before I endorse a concept I research how they did it centuries ago. I look at the psychology aspect of what certain colours, shapes and meanings clothes induce in people. I look at the technical aspect of what fabric works best for which type of body shape and what type of personality as well as how cohesive the it is to the eye.

SM: Where would you like your career in fashion to lead you?

NS: Everywhere but the grave and prison. My career, God allowing, will lead me to places my ancestors never dreamed existed. Besides financial comfort I look forward to visiting the fashion capitals such as France, Paris, Milan and Italy. I love my Zimbabwe but Fashion will afford me a luxurious Dubrovnik (Croatia) or Fiji Islands home.

SM: What is the biggest setback you have ever faced?

NS: It was a combination of location and situation. The biggest setback was getting to a position where I could pursue my passion.]

Financially, my single mother could only do so much. And it was difficult to get assistance in terms of a scholarship for my art as Zimbabwe was at a standstill economically.

SM: How did you emerge from it?

NS: By the grace of the Almighty God and nothing else.

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