David Tlale’s 20th Anniversary Show at Joburg Fashion Week

David Tlale’s 20th Anniversary Show at Joburg Fashion Week

Buhle Mbonambi

There was always going to be something different about David Tlale’s show at Joburg Fashion Week 2023. Beyond it being a celebration of 20 years of the designer’s brand, it was all about paying homage to the people who have made David Tlale the brand it is today.

The guest list was a true indication of his star power. From South Africa’s top fashion editors and stylists, to photographers, publicists and celebrities, everyone who has had a relationship with the David Tlale brand, was present.

The stars of the Netflix reality show, Young, Famous & African were present, clearly shooting an episode of the show.

David Tlale's 20-year celebration of fashion at Joburg Fashion Week

The evening started with a speech, a prayer, and a reflection from the designer. The speech saw Tlale remind people of his beginnings – from being an accounting student, and then dropping out to become a fashion student- the people who kept his dream alive, like his departed mother and also celebrating his role in grooming a new generation of designers.

Sometimes people forget that designers like Mmuso Maxwell, Siphosihle Masango and K.Moraba & Collective, come from David Tlale’s The Intern development programme.

So it was fitting that the evening’s show would begin with 30 looks designed by his latest cohort of young designers. Each had a succinct point of view, that set them apart.


From the treatment of textiles, the silhouettes produced, to the category that the garments can be classified under. It was a show that really reminded us that there are so many talented designers in South Africa, who just need someone to believe in their potential. 

And then it was on to the David Tlale brand. With the soothing sounds of Brenda Mtambo's voice, the show everyone had come out for, began. 

We expected high drama, OTT silhouettes, luxurious fabrics, and unabashed glamour. We got more than that! 

There were the brand's signature silhouettes, the go-to colours, evening gowns, prints, sequins, embroidery, edgy menswear and wedding couture.

He broke down his collection according to colour, moving from white, silver, blush tones, purple, orange, green, prints and then his signature black gowns, unconventional menswear and suiting, to haute couture wedding downs. It was not only a visual feast, but a sensory experience that left us satiated. 

And, to many fashion lovers, there was a return to the runway by some of his muses.

Swanky Jerry at David Tlale's show 

Models like Sonia Booth, Cindy Lee Joseph, Nadine Jaffa, Bonolo and Poppy Xaba, shared the runway with clients (including Carolyn Steyn), Swanky Jerry and upcoming model stars.

It was a true retrospective of what the David Tlale does well- beautiful, well-constructed and luxurious garments, worn by the best and most beautiful models. 

As he took his bow, walking the length and breadth of The Venue in Melrose Arch, he thanked people and organisations who have been instrumental in the success of his brand, including Africa Fashion International.

We look forward to seeing the next 20 years of the brand.

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