There is something for everyone at the annual Essence Festival hosted within the “heart of Durban” at the ICC & DEC from now until Sunday, October 1. Whether your interests lie in the Music & Entertainment industry; Money, Technology & Power; in the Arts & Culture, in Food & Beverages or in Lifestyle & Wellness and you want to follow the latest trends behind the Beauty, Fashion & Style experts – there will be loads of elements to inform and entertain!
This event serves as the sister event to the annual Festival in New Orleans and with the backing of the eThekwini Municipality that have been spearheading the annual Durban Fashion Fair for the past six years, they have put together a specific programme for the festival as well as a Beauty, Fashion & Style Pavilion which will be hosted in Hall 2 at the Durban ICC and is free for the public to attend.
Not only does fashion excite, delight, invigorate and motivate – it goes without saying – Fashion & Beauty stimulates all our senses and in between all the activations, motivational talks and demonstrations, visitors to the fashion pavilion can visit any of the 48 exhibitors showcasing their respective wares from ladies & men’s wear including plus size ladies wear, to leather bags, afro-chic accessories and not forgetting clothing for the little ones.
Kicking off on Friday, September 29 at 18h00, popular South African media personality and fashion icon, Minnie Dlamini, will host a Young Designers Fashion Competition whereby Designers will be requested to submit their mood-boards and storyboards. Then, 5 selected designers will present to the panel of judges and the public in attendance, in order to determine the winning storyboard. There will be fabulous prizes up for grabs for the winners of the top two positions as decided by the judges.
The judging panel will consist of owner and head designer of Zarth, Zama Mathe who created her brand in 2009. Zarth has evolved into a creative design house employing a fully qualified team of professionals; she has since been dressing everyone from the Zulu and Swati royal families, the South African first lady Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, businesswomen, dignitaries, politicians and many celebrities. Zarth also recently showcased at the Durban Fashion Fair 2017 and was awarded for Collection of the Week.

Laduma Ngxokolo, who is a cultural icon fashion designer & innovator as well as the creator of the globally renowned fashion brand MaXhosa by Laduma, will also form part of the judging panel, along with Nthato Mashishi, a celebrity Make-Up Artist who, after 9 years of successfully building up his profile, received several awards in South Africa and is recognised as an expert in his field. He has showcased some of his best work at the opening ceremony of World Summit of Sustainable Development which saw him and 19 other highly rated SA make-up artists being commissioned to render their services at such a prestigious event.
Another judge is Lindiwe Kuzwayo, veteran designer, couturier of 30 years and successful business woman. Kuzwayo founded the Lindiwe Kuzwayo Fashion Design Studio and the Lindiwe Kuzwayo Academy of Fashion in 1986. The academy was in line with her vision of supporting and actively promoting and empowering the youth which she is very passionate about. She also recently won the Durban Fashion Fair Legend Award.
To keep the public entertained whilst the judges are making their decision, models will take to the catwalk for a fashion show at 19h00.
On Saturday, September 30 at 12 noon at the Empowerment Stage, experts within the beauty & lifestyle field will be offering up their expertise to members of the public relating to the topic – “Fashionomics – the economic viability of Fashion” – the panelists confirmed include Lindiwe Kuzwayo; Laduma Ngxokolo as well as internationally acclaimed Italian Stylist, Fashion Guru and Fashion Anthropologist, Helene Blignaut; Chief Architect – DNA Brand Architects, Sylvester Chauke. Chauke was selected as one of the 22 young leaders from around the world to sit as the Advisory Council for the World Economic Forum Global Shapers in April 2017. This is testament to the kind of contribution that he has played in his position of leadership especially in the space of youth entrepreneurship, as well as Trevor Ntombela and Papama Mtwisha.
Trevor Ntombela is a Menswear Buyer with 10 years’ experience for one of the leading national retailers in South Africa. Ntombela has under his belt, a degree in Retail Business Management from the Durban University of Technology as well as having studied Fashion Design at the University of the Witwatersrand. Even though Ntombela is well-travelled both locally & internationally, he still stays true to his roots and is a major supporter of everything Proudly South African within the fashion industry.
The final panelist is Papama Mtwisha, with a diverse 16-year career, Mtwisha has worked in all aspects of the fashion and style industry from fashion design, to fashion directing for publications, wardrobe styling for the TV and advertising industry, as well as personal styling and image consulting, and most recently, headed up a luxury retail concept called Luminance as creative director. About a year ago she started Butter Pudding, a stylish children’s brand inspired by her own children. This is the brand that is behind the “AFRICA YOUR TIME IS NOW” campaign.
Hosting both Friday’s judging panel at 18h00 and facilitating Saturday’s panel discussion at 12 noon, is South Africa‘s “Diamond”, Minnie Dlamini who is a media force to be reckoned with. With an illustrious career spanning over the years, the Minnie Dlamini brand has grown rapidly – as a highly skilled broadcasting personality (actress/presenter), SA’s very own “It-Girl”, and one of the biggest names in entertainment on the continent.
Attendance is free for members of the public to attend the panel discussion at the Empowerment Stage. A fashion show will follow back in Hall 2 after the discussion around 15h00.
To round off all things “beauty & style”, a Hair Competition will be taking place at 14h00 on Sunday, October 1 at the Beauty, Fashion & Style Pavilion within Hall 2 of the ICC.
Adding to this, catch make-up and hair demonstrations by Nthato Mashishi & Rupert Mpanza, who is a top Durban hair stylist, born & raised in KwaMashu. Mpanza says that his biggest achievements were being nominated as one of the 15 best stylists in South Africa by True Love Magazine and being appointed as the head stylist for the Caivil and Metro FM Beauty parlour.
Also on hand will be Ntombenhle Khathwane the CEO & founder of natural hair and body care products – AfroBotanics – As the leading South African natural hair brand, AfroBotanics has earned Ntombenhle recognitions such as her feature on the 200 Mail & Guardian Young South Africans 2015, Forbes 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2016 and her recent award is as 100 of the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) 2017 taking place in New York.
Joining them will be Mthokozisi Chiyi affectionately known as “uSwenka” who not only co-hosts with Lady D every Monday at 11.30 on uKhozi FM as a Fashion & Lifestyle anchor, he is also a regular red-carpet host, Fashion Stylist and a Personal Shopper.
These experts will also be discussing and offering their respective expertise on the following topic prior to the demonstrations – Fleek and Fabulous – Turning glamour into gold (making money from your passion). A fashion show will follow the panel discussion at 16h00.
Adding a bit of glamour to the stage is the facilitator for Sunday’s panel discussion, TV personality and uKhozi FM’s very own on air presenter, Selby Mkhize, affectionately known as “Selbeyonce” amongst his followers.
Throughout each day, visitors can indulge in mini fashion shows, make up & hair demonstrations, experts talks on beauty & style, and purchase goods on sale at the exhibition stands. Entry is free!
We will also be offering the first 50 visitors that attend the panel discussion on Saturday, September 30, a little goody bag filled with Ponds & Tresemme products as well as one general access ticket to attend the All Star Music Concert, upon departure, as well as goody bags for Sunday, October 1st panel discussion which includes a single ticket to catch an evening with Bishop TD Jakes & Joyous Celebration for the first 50 visitors. T&C’s apply.
Between Monday, October 2 until Friday, October 6 there will be a panel discussion taking place in Hall 6 in the Durban Exhibition Centre starting at 09h00 each day featuring internationally acclaimed Italian Stylist, Fashion Guru and Fashion Anthropologist, Helene Blignaut and Chief Architect – DNA Brand Architects, Sylvester Chauke. Topics will range from brand building, positioning and sustainability, to the segments of the clothing system chain, planning trends to highlight a few.
Visitors should note that some areas of the Essence festival require purchased tickets via Computicket.
For more information visit: #ESSENCEFestDBN / @ESSENCEFest / @dbnexperience.
Follow all the fashion action on the DFF Facebook page, Durban Fashion Fair on Twitter or Instagram @dbnfashion_fair. #DFF2017
Doors open at 09h00.

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