South Africa: Empowerment Through Fashion

Cape Town — Glamour prevailed at the 2012 State of the Nation Address as distinguished members of Parliament opted to showcase local designers.

Gone are the days when international designer labels were must-have items: now local designers benefit from renewed patriotism and cultural pride as they inspire MPs to support local talent and job creation.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille wore a striking ensemble which she said she was proud to wear: "I feel very comfortable in this dress. There is much talent in this country, we need to invest in our local talent and cultivate it."

Echoing her sentiments was the party's parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko. She stressed the importance of feeling comfortable in whatever you choose to wear and also supporting local talent.

"It's good to show what creativity we have in our country because what I'm wearing is entirely locally made, so I'm proud to support local industry."

African-inspired design dominated, with many attendees opting to wear traditional dress.

Lindelwa Duujaa, a member of Parliament from the Eastern Cape, says her looks were inspired by the African National Congress centenary celebrations. Her African dress makes her feel like a real African woman, she added.

DA MP Denise Robinson was promoting a new clothing range under the name "Bayete" - meaning "Hail the King" - a local brand that sustains local crafters.

Linda Moss, an ANC MP, chose a colourful green outfit, also inspired by the ANC's centenary celebrations.

A vocal supporter of buying local, the fiery Patricia de Lille, now Mayor of Cape Town, was outfitted completely in red. It was from a local company which employs about 2000 people.

Congress of the People MP Mlindi Nhanha from the Eastern Cape also opted for traditional wear.

He said his dress was reflected combination of different traditional meanings and was inspired by a woman chief who gave the attire to him.

"I have been wearing designer suits for the past two years, but now I have decided to go back to my roots to show our cultural pride," he noted.

Generally the day was one on which women could show their beauty, glory and passion for fashion. But President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma arrived in an classic, black pin-striped suit.

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