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Zee Fashionista: December 2011


We are fully into December and it's definitely getting hotter in Johannesburg. One look at this men's street style, lensed exclusively for Zee Fashionista by Yves Paris of AFTERDEF Museum, and you'll know just what I mean...

Mmhmm, it's hot!

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The Philosophy of Style #6

 Style is one of those things in life that cannot be bought. It cannot be forced. It is one of those things that simply shows itself.

Yves Saint Laurent famously said that, "Fashion fades, style is eternal." Style is not about following fleeting fads and trends, and possessing all the latest designer clothes. Style is timeless. It is unique to the individual. It is about self-expression, history, culture, innovation, self-esteem...

Fashionistas will not bend to fashion rules set out by fashion editors tucked away in their ivory towers.

They know what they want.

They are no longer buying into the "emperors' new clothes" doctrine; "just trust the experts and wear it whether you like it or not" philosophy. They want real clothes, and they want their attire to reflect their beliefs without having to utter a word. They want their garments to live in synchronicity with their core values.

I bring you the Philosophy of Style series of posts, detailing selected fashionistas' ideas on style.


Multi-talented. That is the first word that has to come to mind when one thinks about Itumeleng Direro. At just 24-years-old, Itumeleng is a creative producer at Clive Morris Production; a graphics designer; an artist; a model at South African model, TV presenter and actress, Shashi Naidoo's model and talent agency, Alushi Management; a photographer; a writer; and a researcher. 

Itumeleng's recent work involves, amongst others, working in the production of SABC 2's 6-part engineering and architecture documentary Man Made Marvels, and shooting a reality show that stars some American women left to their own devices in Cape Town (exciting, right?) - oh, and he also happens to be stylish, as attested to by his runner-up finish in GQ's Best Dressed Reader 2011 competition. Here's the philosophy behind his dapper style:

Zee Fashionista: How would you describe yourself in a paragraph?

Itumeleng Direro: I am fortunate enough to be blessed with an array of talents and personal attributes. I am a humble, driven, fun loving and hardworking young man.  Amongst other things, I enjoy engaging with people from all walks of life- I love learning new and interesting things from others. I make every moment count in my life and take advantage of every given opportunity. My motto in life is- “Greatness is all around us”. I draw inspiration from my environment and in turn, share it with the rest of the world through my work.

ZF: Where did you grow up and how would describe how you were as a youth?

ID: I spent my childhood in the Vaal – Sharpeville before moving to Johannesburg. I grew up in a big family of loving aunts, uncles and grandparents. Being an only child, I was doted upon a lot. I was also a very mischievous child just like all the kids in the neighbourhood, yet in front of other people I was very shy. I later developed a great passion for art and athletics when I started school and those God given talents become part of my DNA.

ZF: Is there something about yourself that people might not readily know?

ID: A lot of people don’t know that I am left handed… and obsessed with horror films.

ZF: What do you think style is?

ID: Style is part identity, part sense of expression; essentially, it cannot be bought or sold. It is part of one’s individuality, we can all share the same ideas but no one canshare the same style.

ZF: Who/What influences your style?

ID: My grandfather, who was a tailor, had to be the main iconic person who influenced my style before his passing. He was an influential trend setter back in his day in Sharpeville; a lot of young guys admired his sense of trendiness. He did not wait until Sunday to put on his best look - every day was a Sunday for him. Much like my grandfather, I don’t compromise on personal style, I believe that one has to look their utmost best every day, no matter what you wear; it has to bring out the best in you. I am a huge admirer of contemporary vintage style which forms a significant part of my look.

ZF: How does your style reflect your dreams/Goals/Lifestyle?

ID: I live a very dynamic and demanding lifestyle; my sense of style has to accommodate each avenue of my daily life activities. I like keeping things simple yet unique, I try to stay away from your “papa G” type dress, as different as it may be, some things are just not meant to be worn by others- lol.

ZF: What do you think is the importance of prevailing style vs. just following trends?

Creating an individual style sets you apart from the rest; there is nothing more uninspiring than seeing people buying into the conventional ways of dressing. I believe that it is always a wise idea that your sense of style makes an impactful influence on others. A trend can be something that is popular for now, but a style has the potential to be timeless.

ZF: What are the top 5 items in your wardrobe?

A 3 piece Christian Dior suit that was handed down to me by my grandfather; a black vintage leather jacket; All Stars; Ray-Ban’s; and my vintage NIXON watch.

ZF: What is your winter style advice for men and women alike?

ID: Always keep a good quality scarf and coat in your wardrobe; you can never go wrong with those two items. Colour blocking is great for summer but not in winter, it only leads to a disaster. Oh, and a nice beanie always looks stylish with whatever you wear.

These are some examples of Itumeleng's photographic work. He also recently created a piece that was exhibited at the Afrikarize World AIDS Day Convention in Johannesburg on the 30th of November. The Convention which is an initiative by Afrikarize, a non-profit organization, sought to raise awareness about social challenges like HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, and substance abuse.

(All images are the property of Itumeleng Direro)

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The Balmania never ends...

If there is one thing that you must know about me, it is that I am a huge fan of Balmain. They had me with Christophe Decarnin, but Balmain's new Creative Director, Olivier Rousteing, has managed to keep my Balmainia alive and kicking.

A case in point is this Balmain Spring/Summer 2012 accessories lookbook. I mean - talk about bold! You see, Balmain is for the brave (sorry Diesel).

These accessories have that super glamorous '70s and '80s vibe  - embroidery, embellishments, studs, prints, and gold abound, with some tribal influences thrown in for good measure. C'mon - that bull on the clutch - flames. I shall die in silence now...