Slice of Life: Designing possibilities
I was basically the Fashion Week virgin. There were eight of us in the Woolworths Style By SA show, but I was new to it all.
I was kind of amazed by the whole process.
I knew I wanted my designs to be in a shop eventually, but hadn’t even dreamed of Fashion Week. At the end of last year, I got a message from David West – who I look up to immensely for what he has done in fashion – about working with Woolworths, and I was like, ‘Oh my God… that’s amazing’. Preparing for the show, I was on such a high, because I was being featured alongside designers I really, really admire.
Before for the show, I joked with my friend, asking her if she’s going to be coming to my wedding – because that show is about the closest I’m going to get to having a wedding: walking down a ramp – the aisle – and all my friends and family there.
On the day, I was taking pictures of everything backstage. I mean, you see these fashion week environments, but suddenly it’s you. And then, all of a sudden, it’s real: After three months of work, it’s your turn to walk down the ramp. I was like, ‘You guys go first’. But when I came out, it felt really bright and really, really happy. I heard people in the front row shouting my name and I knew my friends and family were there, even though I couldn’t see them. Everyone was smiling and I was smiling. I don’t think I ever did so much smiling in my damn life. I know you can get a wobbly lip from crying, but I got a wobbly lip from smiling. I wasn’t really thinking of anything when I was walking down the ramp. I was just super happy. But afterwards, you reflect and you realise, ‘Oh my god, this started with me selling earrings in 2007… It began with five earrings and here I am’. With everything I went through – all the work I had put in – I felt validated.
Everyone was – and still is – really happy for me. Not, ‘Darling, that’s fabulous’ happy, but genuinely happy for me. One guy was like, ‘You’ve switched the way people think the fashion world works; you’ve made it seem possible’.
I could feel that love and support on that ramp. I’m still amazed. My friends were like, ‘If ever you’re having a bad day, just think of that moment and how you were smiling’.
Maria McCloy, 41, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail&Guardian