There was a triumphant feeling at Africa Fashion International’s ‘Design For Life’ fashion show at Joburg Fashion Week on Wednesday evening. As the applause rang out at the end of the show, it was a reminder of the power of hope, courage, and survival.
‘Breast cancer’ are words that everyone dreads to hear, either for themselves or someone close. Many women and men not only find themselves diagnosed with the disease but also have to undergo challenging treatments, making it even more difficult.
That’s why organisations like Reach For Recovery play a crucial role. Reach For Recovery focuses on breast cancer support, providing a national patient support service. In a region where many breast cancer patients cannot afford basic essentials like bras or breast prostheses, Reach For Recovery strives to empower women from underprivileged backgrounds, helping them regain confidence after diagnosis and surgery.
This confidence was evident at the Design for Life fashion show on the first day of Joburg Fashion Week. This was no ordinary show—breast cancer survivors walked the runway alongside models and celebrities, looking stunning in pink and white garments donated by Pan-African designers.
Their presence was a powerful reminder that beauty can shine through even in the face of adversity. Each step they took down the runway celebrated life and declared victory over breast cancer, a scourge in our society.
“It is really special that we can come out in this manner to support Reach for Recovery because the women that you’re going to see walking here, a lot of them are models, some are celebrities, but a lot are breast cancer survivors!” said Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the Founder and Executive Chair of AFI.
“We want you to bring hope, beauty, to applaud and celebrate their courage because they represent each and every one of us. I also wanted to make sure that I wear my doctor’s hat tonight and remind all of you that you do need to have your health checks. It’s important. We know that early detection does result in good outcomes. So I would like to urge all of you to get tested.”
Dr. Moloi-Motsepe, a medical doctor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, is a past President of the CANSA Association and a lifetime member. Combining her medical background and passion for growing the creative industry, she continues her advocacy work through research, awareness building, and education on various cancers globally.
The annual Design For Life campaign by AFI helps dispel the stigma and raise awareness of the disease that affects many women globally. Joburg Fashion Week opened with a powerful statement of support for breast cancer survivors and raised funds for Reach for Recovery.
Taking to the stage before the show commenced, Reach for Recovery’s Stephné Jacobs highlighted the important work the organisation is doing.
“Imagine you are in a hospital bed feeling lonely, scared, and vulnerable. And then at your bedside, a glimmer of hope appears. That glimmer of hope is Reach for Recovery. We go into the hospitals and present our own recovered selves to you as a living example of hope.”
During the Design for Life finale, other women who have survived breast cancer walked onto the runway, declaring victory over the disease. They received an approving applause, with smiles that nobody could take away.
As the show ended, Dr Moloi-Motsepe presented a cheque of R300,000 to the organisation and pledged that through its Foundation, AFI would match the proceeds from the auction of the designer garments featured on the show.
The survivors received a standing ovation from the audience, making the show a resounding success. Some of South Africa’s well-known women, including Basetsana Kumalo, Thando Hopa, and Sibongile Mngoma, walked the runway during the show. The evening ended with a performance by the world-renowned soprano, Sibongile Mngoma.
All garments from the Design for Life fashion show will be available for online auction on the AFI website, allowing fashion enthusiasts and philanthropists to contribute to the cause. All funds raised will benefit Reach For Recovery.
The designer brands who donated garments for ‘Design for Life’ were Gavin Rajah, AFI Prive, Alia Bare, Otiz Seflo, Tumi Captivating, Taibo Bacar, David Tlale, Malondie, KLûK CGDT, SCALO by Sello Medupe, Woke Studios, House of Stevolution and Imprint ZA.