South African women are the full custodians of innovative style across the continent. Throughout the decades SA style icons have influenced art, culture and music across the world. Forever pushing boundaries and taking fashion to the next level, here are some of the women that have inspired fashion trends and innovation in South Africa.
Since the 1980s, our very own Queen of SA pop, the late Brenda Fassie gave us fashion moments we will never forget. From her iconic wedding dress to numerous stage and music video costumes, Brenda always left her fans gagging with her provocative and ever-evolving style. She had the pulse on what was cool in urban and couture fashion. She was also the epitome of unapologetic sexual expression in fashion and music, one of the firsts to do it.
Throughout the 2000s, our very own South African blonde bombshell Lebo Mathosa, pioneered and dominated the modern fashion movement with her sexy, sultry, and provocative style. Lebo was able to mix urban street fashion with runway diva inspirations way before it was cool. Her iconic looks have been documented from the early days as a member of Boom Shaka, evelving into the superstar icon we remember. Lebo always slayed red carpets and events with her unique fashion sense. It’s no wonder that she won the Style Best Dressed Woman of the Year Award in 2001 and was nominated by FHM magazine as one of Africa's sexiest women.
Queen B, as her fans affectionately call her, is always at the forefront of feminine beauty and style daarhling. She embodies a chic, refined and expensive sense of style that has won her numerous awards throughout her career. In 2008, Bonang made a collaboration with retailer Legit in launching her first clothing line, "Just B". She also partnered with a London-based designer to create a handbag collection called "Baby Star". In 2014, Woolworths revealed a collaboration with Bonang for a lingerie line called "Distraction By Bonang," which is still ongoing. In 2018, she collaborated with Superbalist on a collection of T-shirts named "BONANG” by Bonang Matheba." The T-shirts had famous Bonang quotes printed on them, including "Mo'ghel", "Give The People What They Want" and "#IAmBonang". She remains one of the queens of SA fashion, entrepreneurship, and entertainment.
Sho Madjozi might be a relatively new stylista in the world but she’s certainly left a lasting impression. Madjozi is known for proudly showcasing her Tsonga culture in her music and fashion. Her colourful braid hairstyles influenced girls and women all over the continent. Her looks have caused a frenzy amongst young girls wanting to look like their music icon. Madjozi has mixed inspirations from kwaito music stars like Boom Shaka and Thandiswa Mazwai with her unique twist of afro-harajuku. With her recent signing to Epic Records in the USA, she's is definitely an artist to watch in the near future.
When it comes to a chic contemporary African aesthetic, Thandiswa "King Tha" Mazwai certainly knows how to hold her own. With a unique and varied sense of fashion, her hairstyles and outfits have inspired many young women. Mazwai is a versatile musical legend like no other and her fashion is a hybrid of urban and traditional culture, bold femininity and uniqueness. The multi-award-winning King Tha is a pioneering force within music, culture and fashion.
With a beautiful and sultry voice, Simphiwe Dana is the queen of South African avant-garde style. She has served contemporary runway looks for her stage performances, music videos and appearances throughout her career. Dana also embraces African designers like no other with her bold choices. She’s one of the few unapologetic voices in contemporary music culture and definitely deserves a place in the style queen arena.
With iconic catchphrases like “Iyho bangani Iyho” Vinolia Mashego came into our TV screens and hearts in the 90s and entertained us with her vivacious personality for years to come. Remember the power suit in Generations? And the colorful streetwear in Jam Alley? Vinolia was the OG of chic kasi fashion and we don’t speak about it enough. She gave us blonde hair before it was a thing, androgynous fashion, high femme, and everything in between and we salute the entertainment icon for showing that women in entertainment can be bold, sexy, and sassy.
DJ Zinhle has broken through so many barriers in a male-dominated music industry and her fashion game is on another level. Zinhle is our eternal style crush who manages to switch it up every single time. She’s a fashion chameleon who is able to rock chic, bold looks with some edgy and eclectic choices. She is never afraid to experiment, her leisurewear wear is always on point and ofc ourse we can’t stop staring at the bling bling she brings to table. Dj Zinhle is also the owner of Era by Dj Zinhle, an accessories brand (predominantly watches) that has partnered with American Swiss for a limited edition range. She also has collaborated with brands like Olay and in 2019, she announced the launch of her furniture store, Jiyane Atelier, in collaboration with one of her best friends, Brendan Reynolds.
Multiple award-winning entrepreneur Johanna Mukoki may seem like a quiet storm in fashion, but she’s been a prominent force in business, travel and SA style. Since their beauty pageant days, Johanna and her sister Basetsane Khumalo have always been in the spotlight with their successful business and entertainment endeavors. Johanna embodies contemporary, clean, chic style with a business flair and that’s why she won Most Stylish Business Personality at the GQ Style Awards in 2018.
Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe
The South African fashion industry owes a lot to the work and achievements of Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe. She has always had a strong interest in fashion and in 2007 she founded an organization called African Fashion International which encourages young South African designers. She ran the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg and in Cape Town. Her personal style is a mix of refined executive realness, park avenue aesthetic with timeless glamour. She has been on many best-dressed lists, red carpet events and has achieved numerous accolades in business and fashion. It’s all very fitting since Forbes Magazine estimated her family's wealth at $2.5 billion and noted that they were South Africa's wealthiest black couple.
Kwaai Boutique would like to wish you a Happy Women's Month. Follow our Instagram @Kwaai_Boutique and check out our Women's Month giveaway.
Click here to shop.