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SA's 11 official language groups may have influenced fashion today       

These articles are protected by copyright: Simon Rademan Fashion Design Studio CC  Media request for an interview       

The Style Bible is an easy to read style guide for women - by Simon Rademan - available in bookstores...scroll down for more information on the RAINBOW people of South Africa (in alphabetical order)

... with Graca Machel Mandela (wife of President Nelson Mandela) and Edith VenterIt was 'divine intervention' when I was asked by Edith Venter Promotions to design and style outfits for the honourable 'guests' of the 5th annual Teddy Bear's Banquet (the teddy bears, representing South Africa’s 11 official languages).  This was in aid of the Red Cross Children's Hospital and took place at SA Fashion Week in Sandton, Jhb.  

Use quickfind:  Afrikaans / English / IsiNdebele / IsiXhosa / IsiZulu / SePedi / SeSotho / SeTswana / Siswati / TshiVenda / Xitsonga

Afrikaans language The Afrikaner people

Afrikaans is the language of the Afrikaner people       The 'Voortrekker' women would get married in gowns made from brocades and silks in darker colours like black, brown and even purple. White wedding gowns only originated around the time when Queen Victoria was married in a white dress.  Dresses emphasized the waistline and was often corseted.  Women wore a hat called a 'kappie' and this was to protect them from the South African sun.



English language The English people

English is the language of the English people       The Brittish Settlar's came to South Africa around 1820, wearing a hat called a "bonnet"  which reminded a lot of the 'Voortrekker kappie, but it was worn more open and upright and combined with softer fabrics like chiffon.  They were alo known for 'empire'-line dresses and protected themselves from the South African sun with an umbrella.



Isindebele languageThe Ndebele people 

Isindebele is the language of the Ndebele people       Ndebele's are known for their colourful craftsmanship.  Colours like red, yellow and blue brightens up their outfits and are used in wall-paintings.  Some of the more traditional women still wear very distinctive brass neck rings and blankets with beaded adornments



isiXhosa language The Xhosa people

Isixhosa is the language of the Xhosa people       Traditionally, the Xhosa's were hunters and very early users of what is today known as 'make-up'.  They would paint their faces with clay and many still do around the time that family-members are initiated.  Their craftsmanship include the beading of ornaments.  Women enjoy smoking from a long wooden smoking pype.



isiZulu language The Zulu people

Isizulu is the language of the Zulu people       In earlier times, the women used bright and colourful earplugs that were inserted into the earlobe and gradually stretched to larger holes.  The women still pierce their ears today, but would rather hang wooden ear jewelry that are generally found at flea markets where African goods are sold to tourists.  I strongly suspect they know what fashion's 'little black number' was long before Coco Chanel 'discovered' it.  Zulu women still love wearing black and often emphasizes with green and red.  They are known for the zig-zag pattern we often see, they wear leather skirts (Isidwada),  and prefer the larger plastic beads. in their crafts and jewelry.


Sepedi language The pedi people

Sepedi is the language of the Pedi people       Pedi women's traditional outfits involve a shorter version of the 'empire' dress-length and much wider.  Rich embellishment-lines are often found on this.  Under this they would drape a piece of cloth and wear it as a 'layered look -ensemble. They are known for novelties and often seen wearing sunglasses.  Although many historic tribal rituals involved dancing, Pedi women still love calling on formal dancing.



Sesotho language The basotho people

Sesotho is the language of the Basotho people       Women painted their faces with clay and spent much time by making clothing items from straw.  During and after female initiation ceremonies, women would (and still do) paint their faces. They still wear masks that represent this initiation and straw-costumes that are associated with fertility. 



seTswana language The Tswana people

Setswana is the language of the Tswana people       The Tswana women uses a patterned blanket to complete the final look.  Traditionally many women had no problem with partial nudity.  A form of westernization was the bra's and sport shoes that the women started wearing.  Their ability to craft from wood is shown in walking sticks with faces that they carried with them. 



Siswati language The Swazi people

Siswati is the language of the Swazi people       Red, white and black are strong colours that are used in cloths for Swazi women ensembles.  These cloths are often tied diagonally from the shoulder downwards.  Macramé is a knotting- and weaving-method that is used to make carriers for a vast variety of items.   Their pottery is much sought after, both nationally and internationally.



TshiVenda language The venda people

Tshivenda is the language of the Venda people       A cloth called 'vhulungu' is worn to complete their look. A towel is often worn under a dress, and women used to wear many silver bangles around their wrists and their ankles.  These bangles are a gift from a married woman's husband's family.  Although they did not wear much other jewellery in general, the more modern woman will wear earrings. 



Xitsonga language The Tsonga people

Xitsonga is the language of the Tsonga people        A traditional skirt would consist of 40 metres of fabric that is pleated around the waist, and worn to traditional dance celebrations.  Turquoise, lime green and pink are colours that are often seen in their jewellery, and a shirts has to have a dotted appearance.  Two loose cloths (in contrasting colours are knotted on the shoulder and hangs diagonally downwards.  Silver ankle bracelets (lots of them) are handmade in a distinctive spiral technique, and worn on both feet. 


Read a different article  /  RAINBOW BEARS BANQUET  /  Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital

Disclaimer:  I am not a formally trained historian, merely a fashion designer and style director,  searching for inspiration from the colourful South African people, fondly known as "the Rainbow nation".  I will be  launching my newest couture collection at RCP Prestige Women's day at Gallagher Estate and has been inspired by this project to showcase South African women as unique, stylish, and elegant.  Browse through this site and find out more about fashion in general.

Simon Rademan, Graca Machel Mandela (wife of former president Nelson Mandela), Edith Venter (businesswoman) @ the gala eventAcknowledgements:  Lodewyk Ferreira and Sally (Great start-off);  Vanishing cultures of South Africa (Book reference);  Edith Venter Promotions (concept);  Marita Keet for the photographs;  Bruma Lake fleamarket, Rosebank rooftop;  Pretoria Zoo;  Niko Grobler (co-designer and -stylist);  and the many women from different cultures that I interviewed for this project:  Sandra, Elsabe, Dinah, Elsie, Maria, Martha, Grace, Bongi, Gerda, Catherin , Julie, Dora, Katie, Sarah, Gaby Dorothy, Sue, Mary,

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RAINBOW BEARS BANQUET 2006  In aid of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital



For the last 4 years the Children’s Hospital Trust has staged the high profile Teddy Bears Banquet in Johannesburg to raise much needed funds for the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Each year the event has had a special theme including Precious Bears, Celebrity Bears and TV Bears. Hand-made teddy bears from Guernsey are  dressed to the nines and auctioned off at a gala evening.

To date the event has raised over R1 million and has contributed to the upliftment and development of various projects including the building of a world-class Trauma Unit at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

With the help of Edith Venter Promotions the Children’s Hospital Trust organizes the event which is always supported by well-known celebrities and the affluent Gauteng community at large.

This glamorous annual event is now firmly fixed as a highlight on the Gauteng social calendar and enjoys extensive media coverage both before and after the event, including print and electronic coverage. 

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What the Red Cross Children’s Hospital needs

The Red Cross Children’s Hospital is celebrating its 50th Birthday this year. The Red Cross Children’s Hospital is the only dedicated specialist paediatric hospital in sub-Saharan Africa. This very special Hospital treats more than 250 000 patients a year and holds the future for the healthcare of all the Children of Africa. Most of the young patients are from disadvantaged communities throughout South Africa and the rest of the continent.

The Hospital’s Operating Theatres were built as part of the original hospital in 1956 and no longer meet the needs of modern theatre practice. The Red Cross Children’s Hospital urgently needs funds to upgrade the Theatres and purchase modern Theatre equipment, to maintain the standards of paediatric surgical excellence for which the Hospital is renowned.

Approximately 700 to 800 operations are performed at the Hospital each month and Children are often placed on waiting lists that stretch from 4 to 16 months. It is important that surgeons and their teams are provided with the best facilities and equipment possible. This new development will give surgeons and their teams the best facilities and equipment possible and help maintain the standards of paediatric surgical excellence for which the Hospital is renowned. With the new theatre complex and eight modern theatres, the surgical teams will be able to operate on many additional little patients every year.

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Increasing the Excitement in 2006

In light of the Hospital’s needs we are honoured to have Simon Rademan as a partner with us in raising funds for this national asset and continental resource. Every cent that is donated to the Children’s Hospital Trust will go directly to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

The theme for the 2006 Teddy Bears Banquet is ‘Rainbow Bears’. This event is celebrated on Saturday 29 July when guests has the pleasure of arriving to front row seats at SA Fashion Week’s Finalé for cocktails and starters prior to the ‘Rainbow Bears Banquet’. Here they will be treated to the highlight of SA Fashion Week,  Immediately after this showstopper eleven ‘Rainbow Bears’ (designed for, and styled by:  South African fashion designer, Simon Rademan), representing South Africa’s 11 official languages, are modeled by a high profiled person from each culture.

After the show guests will cross over the walkway from Sandton Convention Centre to the ballroom (Maroela Room) at the Intercontinental Sandton Sun & Towers. The evening will then proceed with the main course and dessert being served and the entertainment and auction will follow.

The ‘Rainbow Bears Banquet’ is a fitting theme for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital fundraiser as the Hospital treats over 250 000 children from all over South Africa irrespective of parent’s income, race, gender, religion or place of residence.

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