/ 4 December 2008

Large and green

When David Tlale announced that his new range is named the David Tlale Green range I struggled to make the connection between the colour green and fuller-figured women.

I kept wondering if it is because curvaceous women look more natural, hence green, or if there was something eco-friendly that Tlale has added to the range for these particular women.

I had to wait for the launch of the Green range to find out what it really means. This came in the form of a high tea-cum-fashion show held at Tlale’s offices in Rosebank. It put me at ease to hear him say jokingly: “I knew the eco-friendly connection would be the first thing you’d think of.

“Green is the colour of continuous life and growth and there is always an element of green in my creations”, Tlale said.

Although he admits that there is nothing new to launching a range for bigger women, it was something new for him. “We make clothes for all kinds of fashion shows and there is still a perception that designers want to cater only for anorexic women,” he says. “And while there is nothing new in launching a plus-size range, people are not expecting it from me.”

Tlale says he is simply paying attention to the South African market.

“We are African and most African women are fuller figured so there is no way we can ignore that. We need to cater for these beautiful, curvaceous women”.

Cocktail and floral dresses were modelled by well-rounded celebrities: poet and television personality Lebohang Mashile, Judith Sephuma and 5fm’s Anele Mdoda. Tlale confirms that 80% of the women he uses to model the range are his clients. “David makes clothes for me all the time. Each time I go for shows I consult him and he always gets it right,” says jazz singer Sephuma.

The best thing about the range is that is ready to wear, she says. “We big women sometimes struggle to look good and we often look good wearing things we don’t feel too comfortable in.”

A number of the affluent women who pitched up for the show seemed keen to place orders, not only because they can fit into them but because the colours and the textures Tlale has used are “fabulous and luxurious”. “I am not of the opinion that black makes you look slimmer. I believe that women of all shapes should embrace colour, so I played with colour in this range.”

The issue of comfort is of vital importance to fuller-figured women.

“This feels light and feminine and I feel like I can do anything in this dress,” says Mdoda, who was wearing a clinging black number in silk and lace.

Mdoda, who is known for her ebullient, straightforward humour, says: “I think that the retail outlets have got it wrong by thinking just that because we are bigger we don’t want to feel sexy. I think that is the point David is trying to make with this range.”

Tlale is confident in assuring all that his upcoming Green range is not haute couture. Any fleshy woman who wants to feel good can afford it. Having used fabrics such Irish linen, silk, chiffon and lace it is rather surprising that, as Tlale puts it, “nothing is more than R5 000 and everything is ready to be worn.”