It`s not the average Friday afternoon at The Northwest School of Design. The energy is tangible in the air. The cameras are ready and the scene is set.
Today is the fashion shoot in celebration of the 40th birthday of Marlene Oosthuizen, Principal of the Northwest School of Design. In keeping with this fashion powerhouse, three highly successful and established designers (all graduates from NWSD), each designed and made a once off master piece to celebrate this milestone in true style and glamour. “I am used to being on the other side of the camera, it’s difficult for me to be directed” she nervously admitted.
First up is the gorgeous and flawless Gert-Johan Coetzee Couture creation. Stepping out in this beautiful black dress, Marlene effortlessly evokes the spirit and essence of old Hollywood glamour. “I chose this design for Marlene, it is very flattering on all body types, and I know her well, so it also says something about her personality and who she is. Fashion must always portray who you really are. I was really inspired by the 1920's and this dress portrays a 1920's fashion goddess, and this is also what I would like her to feel like when wearing the dress.” Gert-Johan said about designing for her.
Looking like a natural in front of the camera, the lens loved every move that she made. “I have paid my dues in an industry that expects much. At this age I feel more beautiful and empowered than ever. This shoot symbolizes a metamorphosis into a more exciting time of my life. It’s all about the fun of entering a new stage” she says sipping away at her coffee.
Between all the clicks and directions, it was difficult to continue with all the laughter flying around, as I attempted to assist Donovan with his shots, but to no avail.
Next she elegantly steps out in a truly amazing, flaming red Anel Botha Couture lace dress.” Marlene’s heart beats NWSD. Fashion is part of her being, it flows through her veins. I wanted to portray this with the red lace and Bon-Bon knit dress. And just for added dramatic effect, we complimented the dress with a feather fascinator, just to add depth and break the brightness of the dress itself. Marlene is the epitome of style, femininity and drama and this was the feeling we wanted to evoke with this dress.” She told us about the inspiration behind this creation.
With a complimentary head piece, she channels all the beauty and pomp of the Royal Ascot. “I feel sexy in this dress!” she insists as the lens clicks away. “Turning forty, I had the opportunity to reassess all the things that are really important in my life, like being a mother and wife is truly a blessing far greater than that of any other accomplishment.” She says.
Finally, as the afternoon drew to a finale, she transforms into the picture of dramatic beauty in a purple and silver Jose da Canha Couture dress. “With my dress I wanted to create a bold and powerful statement for Marlene. Designing for her was a release of creative energy. I used purple and silver to symbolize a regal and powerful figure, drawing inspiration from the Phantom of the Opera.” He said speaking about his creation. And it was fitting for the final shots, dramatically set against a jaw dropping and majestic sunset with hues of pinks and purple.
But getting there was nothing more than fabulous fun! Arriving at our disclosed set, assistant to the photographer, Tiaan, assured us that this was worth the tedious hike and bundu bashing. Immobilized by laughter and giggles, Marlene and I started what would soon look like fervent athletes daring to conquer Mount Everest. But once the crew fought their way through the tall grass and what looked like mountains in front of us, did we reach the most divine setting for the final shots to be taken.
As the natural light turned from deep purple into a soft darkness, Marlene was at the pinnacle of contentment.” I feel that after all my trials and tribulations in the fashion industry; I can turn around and feel a sense of true accomplishment. I am excited what the future holds for me, my family, and for NWSD.” She said as she waved goodbye to a truly stunning day filled with fun, laughter and “couture forever” immortalized with this photo shoot.
Marlene thanks Donovan Roets for the Fashion Photography.. Assistant to the photographer: Tiaan Visser. Make-up artist: Adeelah Bhula and hairstylist: Nicole Delport from the Hair and Nail Studio. Designer. Also designers Gert Johan Coetzee, Anel Botha and Jose de Canha.
By Stephan Morris, 1st year, BA Fashion Design (Pictured below)