If there was one thing primarily evident through his spring-summer 2020 co-ed collection show is that before anything else David Tlale is a triple-s, a sweet sensitive soul. He is highly spiritual, religious and a gifted purist who expects nothing but the best from those he surrounds himself with. That means that he will push you the furthest you want to go when you are part of his team.
There is never a shortage of high pace drama, all black with a lick of gold or silver accents, bold accessories, considered design, fabrication excess, brilliance and spiritual ambient and gospel music in Tlale’s presence.
His SS2020 show started with a prayer backstage with over 90 crew members comprised of models, dressers, hairstylists etc hand in hand with their heads bowed down. Tlale then transcended on to the stage wearing an angelic white ensemble accessorised with a string of glossy beads. Where he presented a personal note of gratitude on stage and spoke briefly about his beloved late mother, Joyce Tlale. The woman whom his spring-summer 2020 collection was centred around.
In 2003 at Sandton Convention Centre, the same place where he presented his latest show. Tlale’s mother came running down the runway to hug him after being announced as the ELLE New Talent fashion design competition winner. 16 years later he had returned back to a place where his dream took off without the physical presence of his mother and the possibility of her giving him the signature congratulatory hug post the show.
This nuance around the opening act of the fashion show was telling of what was to come because this was one of the rare times. One saw David Tlale wearing any other colour but black, a shade he describes as ‘my happiest colour’. In some cultures, black clothing is worn during the period of mourning and grief. The decision to swap his signature all-black clothing for an all-white dress without dark lense eyewear was in a way metaphorical.
Tlale was then joined by all of his immediate family members on stage all dressed in white. The women wearing floor-sweeping A-line maxis with a print that read ‘kuzolunga mntanami’. A Zulu phrase that translates to ‘all will be will my child’. The words Tlale said that his mother used to share with him whenever he was going through tough times in life.
Talent is great however money keeps the lights on. This reality is was ushered in the second story of the collection. The culmination of passion and commerce. The partnership between Tastic Rice and the House of David Tlale uniting in fashion to celebrate the South Africa culture and heritage. The 11 looks capsule was a collection of bespoke in-house print motifs and illustrations that looked to the daily life scenery of South Africa and its citizens. Tlale also debuted his new menswear footwear collaboration collection with Crocket & Jones on the runway. Those black slip-ons; need.
The third story of the collection looked to underwater life for texture and colour inspiration. Fish scale prints and colour palette inspired by life underwater, above the ground and the omnipresent spirits. There was life representing greens, shocking and friendly yellows, aqua blues, rich metallics, and ostrich feathers. Structured tailoring, loungy draping, skirts over pants styling, bareback revealing male shirts or slashed at the back pattern for ventilation (need) and flowy leisure printed chiffons.
For the fourth story of the collection, Tlale sent out an army of models dressed in monochrome black looks and the last 5-7 male models styled in a distinctively Tshitsonga dress called the Tshibelane. The show was traditionally closed by the House of David Tlale’s muse, Tatum Keshwar in an asymmetric black gown.
The advantage of a house with a legacy is that it can benefit from self-referencing and reinterpreting previous patterns in multiple ways whilst presenting a new idea. My all-time favourite David Tlale silhouettes are the spectacular and the asymmetric fold-over sleeve bodice pattern moments. Need.
The ‘Coulture Wave’ concept subliminally presented was intriguing and hopefully, there will be an expansion on it in his future work. Coulture is what I would consider being a beautiful portmanteau, couture + culture. Could it be that this collection was initially themed ‘Coulture Wave’ but later replaced by Joyce in order to ReJoice (rejoice) a beautiful life lived and the love of a mother…