THE red ankle-length dress that Zahara wore to the Sama awards last week, where she swept home seven trophies, has stirred the kind of storm normally associated with mermaids in folklore.
HOT ITEM: Zahara’s dress has become the red rag to three angry bulls.
Zahara’s dress is my design. It was stolen from my design of the dress I designed for Zikhona
Zahara thanked NN Vintage for the garment during the event, thereby crediting Nhlanhla Nciza for designing the dress – but now two more fashion labels have come out with guns blazing.
Nciza, a singer and owner of NN Vintage, insists she designed the fetching frock.
But so does Vaal-based Loto Ramositli, who trades under the Lonara fahion stable.
Ramositli is adamant that Nciza copied his creation, which was stitched earlier in the year and worn by Zikhona Sodlaka to the SA Film and Television Awards in March.
Pretoria-based fashion house Boraro Style Clothing refutes both claims.
Boraro’s Dibo Rebokile says this design was hatched by her firm back in February.
Rebokile says Nciza saw the design of a matric dance dress they had made in October last year while visiting their studios in Arcadia, Pretoria and fell in love with it.
She claims Nciza dropped her plans to order a dress she had brought a picture of and insisted that they make a dress similar to the matric dance number for Zahara.
Nciza says: “In the fashion industry there’s designing and seamstressing.
“The dresses Zahara wore and the one I were wearing were designed by myself for NN Vintage. Boraro only did the seamstressing, for which they were paid.
“I was introduced to them by Cedric (Nkolele, Nciza’s band member) because the person who normally seamstresses for me had gone to New York.
“I gave them the two designs and fabrics for my dress and Zahara’s. All they did was to sew.
“I don’t see why I should credit the people who sewed.
“It’s disappointing that a young brand like Boraro chose this kind of platform to try and promote their label instead of working hard like everyone else.
“Having said that, I understand that everybody would like to be associated with Zahara’s success.”
Ramositli says: “Zahara’s dress is my design. It was stolen from my design of the dress I designed for Zikhona. She wore it at the Safta’s. I’d understand if theirs was first to be seen in public. But mine was the first to be seen. So clearly they knew and saw my dress; it was widely publicised.
“I’ve been around the block. I have showcased my clothing at South Africa Fashion Week and have designed clothing for people like late singers Brenda Fassie and Lebo Mathosa, who wore my designs at high-profile events. So I can hardly be accused of seeking publicity.
“Boraro Style Clothing are just new kids on the block.”
Rebokile says: “There are a million mermaid dresses in the world. He claims that our dress is based on his because he wants publicity. He’s desperate for publicity because he lives in Vereeniging and nothing ever happens there.
“We made the dress and sold it to them.”
Rebokile sent us pictures of Zahara during the fitting session for the dress at their Pretoria premises.
But Ramositli remains adamant that the dress is a carbon-copy of his artistic efforts. “There’s nothing that they changed in Zahara’s dress compared to my design. While it is true that there are a million mermaids dresses, each designer adds their signature detail.
“They took everything I did except to change the fabric.
“I used Thai-silk and lace. They just used lace and lining inside.
“But the details are the same – the cut, the collar, the short-sleeves and the shape are the same, including the back,” contends Ramositli.
Sodlaka did not want to be drawn into the dress drama.
“I don’t have anything against Zahara. She’s famous. She wore a beautiful dress that suited her well. It fitted with her figure,” Sodlaka says.